My thoughts on my higher education confuse me. For one thing, I made some very good friends at college. I met my girlfriend there. Finally getting a degree (after dropping out twice) DID, whether I like it or not, open up doors (even if just a crack) that were not open to me before.
But I would NEVER, under any circumstances whatsoever, go through it again.
I absolutely hated going to class. I enjoyed doing papers and reading the course materials, but class seemed, to me, like a complete waste of time. Now, admittedly, this may have been due to the fact that during college I started to develop the impression that the vast majority of my fellow students did not care one iota about their education, which led me to believe I could learn a lot more by myself.
Was this impression unfair? Perhaps. But I can say that in the classes I attended, the most vocal students did not do the required reading. This meant they were already behind while dictating the direction of discussions. The professors did nothing whatsoever to stop this, perhaps believing that aimless ramblings may, by accident, lead to hidden truth.
Perhaps finding some hidden truth would have been possible if it wasn't the same discussion, every day, in every class. And perhaps my major had a lot to do with it... after all, there is a high degree of subjectivity in the act of reading.
At any rate, I just don't understand people who are capable... nay... WANT to go to grad school. I date a girl who went to law school for three years after we both finished undergrad... as if dating me wasn't evidence enough, this proves definitively that she is insane. I would rather have my fingernails pulled out one by one and inserted under my eyelids than go back to school. I don't know how people do it.
While browsing Cross Thoughts, I saw a link to a fascinating article regarding the economics of higher education, specifically at the Ph.D. level, which reemphasized a lot of things I think of when people my age tell me they are going to "go back to school". To quote the article:
Ph.D. students are a lot like gamblers. They expect to beat the odds. The gambler personifies odds-beating as Lady Luck. The Ph.D. student instead looks within. "I am really smart. These other people in the program aren't as smart as I am. I will get that tenure-track job. I will make the cut. I will be a beneficiary of the system."
Could this be it? Do people really believe that more and more school will provide them with more opportunity?
Don't get me wrong. I know people who are going back to school for the right reasons. Some people really ARE interested in their studies, and feel that engaging academia by themselves is not enough. There are probably some really cool classes out there with people serious about what they're doing.
But, for too many people my age, "I'm going back to school" means "I'm too lazy to keep a job". These folks seem incapable of understanding that they're unlikely to get their dream job immediately after they graduate. They seem incapable of understanding that their first couple of jobs are going to, in all likelihood, have terrible hours, terrible pay, and terrible benefits. Not only that, hundreds of applications are going to be required before they can even land THAT job.
But isn't that the way it should be? You have to prove you can handle the baby food before you get the steak.