My Upcoming Surgery?

 

I have made an appointment for surgery at the end of summer. I haven’t chosen which operation to have yet, but I know it’s going to be costly.  I don’t mean that I have to choose between two similar operations.  I mean I don’t have a clue in the world what kind of surgery I am going to get.  But I look at it like this: nearly everyone gets some kind of surgery at some point in their life, right?  So I went ahead and made an appointment on the assumption that I will eventually figure out what is the right kind of surgery for me.  I’m sure the hospital will have a guidance counselor or patient advisor who will make a good suggestion as to what kind of surgery would be a good fit for me.  There’s a government loan program for this, and if it turns out that the surgery was totally unnecessary, maybe I can convince some politicians to let me off the hook on repaying the loan.

The above paragraph is satire, of course.  I was listening to the latest episode of The Ricochet Podcast and at the end of it @peterrobinson talks about a conversation he had with a gentleman who went to Princeton.  Not knowing what he should do at Princeton, he let people talk him into getting a major in Hispanic Studies.  This degree was good for getting him a job driving a taxi.  This — in my opinion — is not an anomalous situation.  I have heard of many young people who have gone off to college with no idea of what they want to do with their life.  They just know that everyone goes to college, except for those . . . well, you know . . . dumb people who just aren’t smart enough to get in.  Usually, though, at least these young people are going to a more affordable school than Princeton.

I realize that some people may believe they know what they want to do with their life, then change their mind.  Charles Krauthammer, as a famous example, was a psychiatrist and decided he didn’t really care for it and became a writer and political pundit.  So I’m not criticizing young people for not knowing where they really want to be 20 years down the road.  But doesn’t it seem foolish to sign up for tens of thousands of dollars in debt (or get your parents to shell out that money) when you don’t know what you are going to use your education for?  I guess I’ve just seen too many people with a college degree, who then went on to sell carpeting, insurance, shoes, or cars for a living.  Or get a degree in mass communications and wind up dealing blackjack, before deciding to go through college again and get a nursing degree.  Has it always been like this?  Or has the easy money — either from generous parents or easy-to-get loans — taken pressure off of students to only go to school if they know what their goal is?

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  1. Internet's Hank Contributor
    Internet's Hank
    @HankRhody

    Whatever surgery you get don’t get your gender reassigned just because it’s trendy. It’s like picking your tattoo off of the example wall in the parlor. It brands you as tacky.

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Randy Weivoda: Has it always been like this?  Or has the easy money — either from generous parents or easy-to-get loans — taken pressure off of students to only go to school if they know what their goal is? 

    No, it has not always been like this. It is a relatively recent phenomenon. And, yes, it is because of the easy money, but it is also because the costs have risen much faster than real wages. It’s all those diversity coordinators and such.

    • #2
  3. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    Randy Weivoda: Has it always been like this? 

    I’m sure there have always been a few.  But nothing like now.  The colleges are more than willing to offer meaningless majors in (fill in the blank) studies.  

    Then there’s Mike Rowe.  It’s a blast just listening to him talk.  

    • #3
  4. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    In the 1960s, the point of college was the IIS. Eventually, you learn you need a good job, and college can help.  

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Internet's Hank (View Comment):

    Whatever surgery you get don’t get your gender reassigned just because it’s trendy. It’s like picking your tattoo off of the example wall in the parlor. It brands you as tacky.

    • #5
  6. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    When I initially entered college, I wanted to be a pharmacist.  It seemed to be a decent living, and it would let me use my scientific knowledge to help people.  After a few summers as a pharm tech, it was sounding less appealing (patients were trying my patience) and I did not want to take anatomy class.  I happen to be very, very sensitive to formaldehyde, and my school’s primitive dissection room nearly made me ill just by walking by.   I would have been physically incapable of doing the class.

    However, I turned out to like the biochemistry field, and I was a natural in chemistry.  I got my undergrad degree and entered grad school, becoming a PhD candidate.  However, I ended up not having the all-consuming passion needed to do research.  Research involves marrying your subject matter, and I just couldn’t devote all my heart and soul to it.  I got a masters, and considered my options.  I was debating between being a high school chemistry teacher (get a M.Ed) or this unusual option of a major focused on safety.  Ironically, I ended up following my father’s trade in the safety business.

    It’s only now in my current job, which I got 10 years after my last degree, that uses all my experience and education.

    • #6
  7. Quietpi Member
    Quietpi
    @Quietpi

    Randy Weivoda: Has it always been like this? 

    I’m sure there have always been a few.  But nothing like now.  The colleges are more than willing to offer meaningless majors in (fill in the blank) studies, just to harvest all that money.  

    Then there’s Mike Rowe.  It’s a blast just listening to him talk.  

    • #7
  8. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Believe it or not, I think this might be getting a little better, thanks in part to folks like Mike Rowe and the increase in cost for a 4+ year degree. High school guidance counselors push the need for a college education to get a decent job. I know mine did. Now I see more kids either going to work first and/or going to community college first. I’m sure there are plenty going just to be going. My freshman year in college, the only people who knew what they were going for were us nursing students and the music majors. The rest were just there for the ride and many didn’t stay around for the whole time. My niece is going to college and she doesn’t know many that haven’t already declared a major. It’s hard to turn the big bus around, but I think it is starting a slow turnaround. Now to just get employers to quit asking for a degree where one isn’t needed (BSN). 

    • #8
  9. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Great analogy.

    There are some things that you should not do unless you have a specific goal in mind.

    Many things, actually.

    • #9
  10. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Blondie (View Comment):
    High school guidance counselors push the need for a college education to get a decent job.

    Here’s a poster that apparently used to be on the office walls of a lot of HS guidance counselors…may still be.

    • #10
  11. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    I’m going to disagree a bit.   A solid liberal arts education should (and I emphasise SHOULD) …

    (1)  teach the student HOW to think.  Again … how to think not what to think.   Thinking is a transferable skill.   And learning how can happen as easily in Philosophy or Calculus as Art History or English.  So it’s OK not to have a specific career plan.   One of the smartest people I know is of the opinion that a good, rigorous course of study in mathematics and Latin are all one needs to be prepared for anything life has to offer.

    (2) teach the student how to effectively communicate the results of that thinking to others 

    and

    (3) to DO something productive.   If the only thing the student knows how to do upon graduation is write a good History paper, getting a job is going to be difficult.   So the student should learn something practical… how to calculate with a spreadsheet program,  the basics of bookkeeping, how to manipulate a database,  write a few lines of Code,  how to do experiments in a lab… something that might be of use to an employer on day one.

    Unfortunately, such institutions are hard to find.

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Blondie (View Comment):
    High school guidance counselors push the need for a college education to get a decent job.

    Here’s a poster that apparently used to be on the office walls of a lot of HS guidance counselors…may still be.

    I can relate to that poster a little bit.

    When I was making up my mind whether or not I wanted to go to college, I worked for a lawn care company one summer.  It was hot, nasty work, but I made some much-needed dough.  There was one white guy, about 30 years old, unmarried, lived in a trailer, and he’d been working for the company since high school.  That gave me tremendous incentive not to end up like that.

    Even so, working smart can be hard work – it’s simply not physical . . .

    • #12
  13. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    The issue has many facets, but these are the two I have found.

    One, little kids are not encouraged to think ahead to ‘what they want to be when they grow up.’ A long time ago and far away, when I was in elementary school I had four options: nurse, secretary, teacher, and housewife. I remember one of my friend’s goal was to be a housewife. At that time women were not forced into the workplace. Of course boys had many more options, but going to college was actually a rarity in our blue collar neighborhood. That all changed by the time I was graduating high school and the feminist movement changed societal expectations. My parents expected my sister and me to go to college. Now, I did have role models – two of my aunts and two of my older cousins were already teachers, and one was getting her master’s degree in school counseling. However, it no longer seems to be the case where parents or teachers are encouraging thoughts of future careers early on. There is sort of a push to define careers in high school, but I have talked to many, many a high school student who has no clue what they are going to do after high school – NOT A CLUE. They do not have a plan, other than go to college or get a job. And when you ask what are you interested in, what would you major in, what kind of job are you looking for? They continue to be clueless. They do not appear to be invested in their own lives.

    Two, in Minnesota, about three or four years ago there was a big initiative – college for all. That this is ridiculous on its face apparently did not occur to the ‘highly educated’ directors of the MN Department of Education. So our high school duly dumped all of the basic skills classes, and increased rigor to college levels. Then wondered why we had such a high failure rate in math and English classes. The initiative has been quietly re-labeled college or career ready, but we are still dealing with the fallout. We have students in our low cognitive programs thinking they will go to college. How do you tell a student (or their parents) they have a 57 IQ, and a second grade reading level and they will not be going to college?

    College is no longer for education. It is for the “experience.” It is a very costly experience.

    • #13
  14. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    When I was growing up (I graduated from high school in 1983), the standard advice was that you should get a college degree, but it didn’t much matter what subject you studied. The thinking was that an employer would teach you the skills you needed for the job, and college was just meant to give you a basic foundation of knowledge and thinking skills. In particular, a liberal arts degree was thought to be a general-purpose degree that would prepare you for life.

    Maybe there was a time when that advice was correct, but certainly it wasn’t by the time I was hearing it. Fortunately, college was a lot less expensive then, and I wasn’t left with massive debt to pay for my useless psychology degree.

    The way I see it, there are two possible reasons for going to college. Both are valid, but they apply to very different situations.

    • The first reason is because you want to broaden your mind, live the college life, follow an artistic passion, or otherwise just learn more about some subject that fascinates you. That is essentially a form of recreation, and it’s fine for people who can afford it. But it’s foolish to go into debt for that, especially since there are so many free ways to learn things.
    • The second reason is to make yourself employable. This is the reason that is actually applicable to most 18-year-olds. To do this correctly, you must have a clear idea of what sort of employment you want to prepare yourself for, and what sort of qualifications it requires. Even then, there may be cheaper ways to get the qualifications you need, since a lot of employers care far more about actual skills than they do about credentials.

    The problem is that the two reasons are usually conflated, and far too many high-school graduates are still being encouraged to go to college without any clear idea why. This is demonstrably terrible advice (why else would we have a student debt crisis?), and yet for some reason it doesn’t go away.

    • #14
  15. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    IMHO, college should usually not be a vocational school — we have vocational schools for that.

    I don’t want to hear economics from a person who can’t explain how a carburetor works, but I’ll gladly have a carburetor fixed by somebody who can’t explain economics.  Higher-level education should be general at least in its foundation.  Most 4-year degrees should be as wide as possible.

    Yet the degree should still be useful — ___ Studies and political agitation as “study” don’t count.  if your well-rounded education hasn;t prepared you to understand the necessity and some tools to make yourself useful in the economy, then that’s not the education I’m talking about.

    • #15
  16. DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
    @DonG

    Randy Weivoda: This degree was good for getting him a job driving taxi. 

    This is a problem of 3rd party payers.   If the kid was paying in cash, he would look ahead.  If a bank was risking money, they would filter those majors.  If the school was risking money, they would give better advice.  Currently the financial risk is on the taxpayer and the opportunity risk is on the student and the school is free to give bad advice without any downside.

    • #16
  17. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda: This degree was good for getting him a job driving taxi.

    This is a problem of 3rd party payers. If the kid was paying in cash, he would look ahead. If a bank was risking money, they would filter those majors. If the school was risking money, they would give better advice. Currently the financial risk is on the taxpayer and the opportunity risk is on the student and the school is free to give bad advice without any downside.

    Brilliantly put.

    • #17
  18. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Blondie (View Comment):
    Now to just get employers to quit asking for a degree where one isn’t needed (BSN).

    I agree 100%, Blondie.  You may know that I just moved to Tennessee.  For about the last 1.5 years I had been a produce inspector at a grocery distribution warehouse. About a month ago I saw the job posting to replace me back in Fargo.  One of the things it said was college degree preferred.  Why?  If they have two applicants neither of whom has been a produce inspector before, and one went to college decades ago, that one would be given preference? Just what would someone have learned in college — perhaps 20 or 30 or 40 years ago — that would make them a better produce inspector today?

    I’m sure many of the jobs I have been applying for are also giving preference to people who went to college, even though the subjects they studied have nothing to do with the work in question.

    • #18
  19. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Before my kids went to college, I had a routine every time we went out to eat.  I would always ask our waitress what she majored in.  It was amazing how many of them were college graduates.  Their major was usually psychology.  Sometimes grievance studies.  Sometimes sociology or political science or philosophy.  One I remember had a PhD in English Literature – we had a fascinating discussion about The Canterbury Tales.  She was brilliant. 

    But they never said biochemistry.

    I didn’t tell my kids, but I wanted them to hear which majors prepare one for waitressing etc.

    • #19
  20. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    I’m going to disagree a bit. A solid liberal arts education should (and I emphasise SHOULD) …

    (1) teach the student HOW to think. Again … how to think not what to think. Thinking is a transferable skill. And learning how can happen as easily in Philosophy or Calculus as Art History or English. So it’s OK not to have a specific career plan. One of the smartest people I know is of the opinion that a good, rigorous course of study in mathematics and Latin are all one needs to be prepared for anything life has to offer.

    (2) teach the student how to effectively communicate the results of that thinking to others

    and

    (3) to DO something productive. If the only thing the student knows how to do upon graduation is write a good History paper, getting a job is going to be difficult. So the student should learn something practical… how to calculate with a spreadsheet program, the basics of bookkeeping, how to manipulate a database, write a few lines of Code, how to do experiments in a lab… something that might be of use to an employer on day one.

    Unfortunately, such institutions are hard to find.

    If college amounted to a few thousand dollars, sure.  Or if someone has been working, is already financially set, and they go to college just for the joy of learning, great.  I just think it’s crazy to see people who graduated from college ten or twenty years ago still paying off their student loans, and working at jobs that could be done equally well by someone with a 10th grade education.

    • #20
  21. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda: This degree was good for getting him a job driving taxi.

    This is a problem of 3rd party payers. If the kid was paying in cash, he would look ahead. If a bank was risking money, they would filter those majors. If the school was risking money, they would give better advice. Currently the financial risk is on the taxpayer and the opportunity risk is on the student and the school is free to give bad advice without any downside.

    Brilliantly put.

    Agreed.

    • #21
  22. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before my kids went to college, I had a routine every time we went out to eat. I would always ask our waitress what she majored in. It was amazing how many of them were college graduates. Their major was usually psychology. Sometimes grievance studies. Sometimes sociology or political science or philosophy. One I remember had a PhD in English Literature – we had a fascinating discussion about The Canterbury Tales. She was brilliant.

    But they never said biochemistry.

    I didn’t tell my kids, but I wanted them to hear which majors prepare one for waitressing etc.

    You are a genius.

    • #22
  23. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    My mom had only an eighth grade education, but was a whiz with numbers. She was able to get jobs as a bookkeeper. I am pretty sure she was a bookkeeper for a mob front business for a while. At any rate she eventually worked for an appliance dealer and she and my dad were able to go on annual luxury trips provided by appliance manufacturers. She was a smart lady and was able to experience mind-broadening travel for many years. I wish I had inherited her math skills. Unfortunately, your innate abilities no longer determine your job prospects.

    • #23
  24. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Juliana (View Comment):
    I am pretty sure she was a bookkeeper for a mob front business for a while.

    !!!

    • #24
  25. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Juliana (View Comment):

    My mom had only an eighth grade education, but was a whiz with numbers. She was able to get jobs as a bookkeeper. I am pretty sure she was a bookkeeper for a mob front business for a while. At any rate she eventually worked for an appliance dealer and she and my dad were able to go on annual luxury trips provided by appliance manufacturers. She was a smart lady and was able to experience mind-broadening travel for many years. I wish I had inherited her math skills. Unfortunately, your innate abilities no longer determine your job prospects.

    Try math again.  I failed pre-Algebra three years running.  Later in college I was forced to crack into math and wound up doing quite well, with my shock approaching infinity as my improvement varies to the right.

    What began as a necessity became truly enjoyable as whole new worlds opened up.  Accomplishment and exploration, the joy of discovery and the satisfaction of work paying off. No better way to learn.

    I did not have the same experience with programming, and now can see that the approach we took to C++ was really not good.

    • #25
  26. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    I wish we could get back to an apprentice system. Instead of paying colleges for useless degrees, we should be paying businesses to take on apprentices. It seems like a no-brainer; the businesses would benefit by getting essentially free labor, and the apprentices would be prepared for an actual career (and in many cases would be able to skip the whole job-hunt process entirely).

    I can only assume there must be legal reasons why it can’t be done.

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I got my BA at Cal State Long Beach because it was the thing to do. It was cheap back in those days and I had a very small student loan which I paid off quickly. I switched from an English major to History, and fell in love with history; during that time I also learned critical thinking, which was invaluable.

    When I decided I wanted to study Organizational Development, I began to read the popular books that had come out just before I signed up for an MA with University of Phoenix, which was pretty inexpensive, too. It turns out that most of the  books I had already read were required reading! I learned a tremendous amount about working with people through conflict, not theoretical stuff but real life stuff, and it served me very well in my work and in my life. I guess I was just lucky.

    • #27
  28. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Some info on apprenticeships.

    • #28
  29. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Juliana (View Comment):
    I am pretty sure she was a bookkeeper for a mob front business for a while.

    !!!

    I don’t know how else to explain her doing bookkeeping on a Sunday for a furniture business out in the middle of nowhere, but within striking distance of Chicago, and that never had any customers. My dad did not let her go alone to this business, so we all went for a few hours on Sunday afternoons, once a month. The ‘owner’s’ name was Garofalo (sp?). I think she did the books for the legitimate business, not the other stuff. But who knows. He died and that was the end of it.

    • #29
  30. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Some info on apprenticeships.

    I think this is a great idea. We need more hands on experiences for kids who either are not interested or can’t afford college.

    • #30
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