quote:Originally posted by Empty Purnata:
Everybody always assumes that colleges educate and teach students to think for themselves. People assume that college is a place where independent thoughts, original ideas and free thought are encouraged as well as free exchange. THAT'S BULLSHIT.
Have to agree with you on this one, EP.
For the most part, colleges and universities are institutions of conformity. I say this with some insight, having worked at UCSF in administration for eleven years. In general, colleges and universities are a mirror of the values of society. And in this society, the reflection is capitalism and power.
For US colleges and universities, government funding, corporate funding, private grants, and alumnae contributions, pretty much spell status quo. Colleges and universities can't afford to deviate too far from the accepted path because the flow of dollars would be interrupted. The more school programs there are with federal or state funding, the more money they continue to get with all the perks of federal and state benefactors.
So, they have created a system that reflects the status quo and turns intellectual ambition and bright minds into apathy and conformity. US colleges and universities turn out worker drones who serve greedy corporations by being good worker bees, by participating in the wars that protect their interests, and by consuming all the useless, poisenous toys produced by these same corporations.
If you plan to join the rank and file, than you recognize that colleges and universities hold all the cards. It's a vicious cycle, again designed to ensure conformity. You can't get one of those high-salaried corporate or government jobs without the certificate or diploma. But you can't get the diploma without attending a corporate college or university. And that's the way it's meant to be.
But it's not true that people need a classroom setting to learn a subject. Almost anyone in this age of the Internet can learn a subject through determination and discipline. And "It is what you make it" is not a unique application exclusive to colleges and universities.
Belief in the classroom setting is usually promoted by the institutions themselves or by someone who is part of the system. This belief is contradicted by the thousands of children who are home-schooled every year and by the thousands of high-school kids who have passed the GED test and leave HS early. And the thousands of people who have led distinguished, creative, successful lives without having the certificate or diploma can speak for themselves.
But don't blame the professors and teachers because they're caught in the same machine you are. Professors are often overstressed, underpaid, burdened by fear, rules, and regulations, and restricted in what they can teach. What they can and can't teach is decided by a group of nodding clones who protect the status quo. In the case of the UC system, it's the Board of Regents, a group of political appointees who haven't a clue as to what the truth is.
There are many very bright people who cannot adjust to the conformity, the regimentation, and the tedium of the university and college system. They know the drill and it goes something like this:
Concentrate on being a good little sheep and getting good grades because that's the only measure of what you're worth in the eyes of those you'll serve.
Deviating from this is dangerous. You may be one of the those few with the potential to smash the mirrors and reveal the truth. Those who own everything won't like that.
Independent thought and creativity are discouraged as you're force-fed a mechanized, junk food education, a curriculum that's designed for those who plan to join the ranks of the serving class, which most college graduates do. They usually go to work for a subsidiary or directly for a large corporation.
Don't worry about changing the world for the better because you won't be doing any of that. You'll be working to maintain the system as the people who own everything see fit. And as long as you're a good worker-bee, they'll clothe you, feed you, and bury you in a good plot of land. On your tombstone they'll enscribe, " He was a good follower".
There are exceptions, but this is what higher education has become in the US.
One final thought, EP. Don't bother asking any of your professors who Garret Augustus Morgan, John H. Johnson, Maya Angelou, or August Wilson were/are. They probably won't know they were/are all successful Black Americans who either didn't attend college or dropped-out. Instead, ask them about Ray Kroc or Bill Gates (I apologize because here I so easily fall into the American trap of associating success with wealth).
Anyway, ask them about these two men and how they didn't need a college education to be successful. You'll probably be told something like "Oh, yes but they're the exception, not the rule".
That says a lot about you and me because it makes us the rule, not the exception.
And that's the point: you cannot be successful, or a true human being by always doing what everyone else does. If you only do what you're told, you'll be no better than average.
You may be seen as a social failure, but so what? If you measure your success by what others tell you is successful, then you fear deviating from the status quo because that is a sign of failure.
Is attending a foreign university an option? Do you believe in yourself enough to pursue an education independently, or in real world experience? Would dropping out of college altogether make you a failure? In the eyes of some, yes, but independent study, belief in yourself, and inititive can more than make up for it.
You are the exception, not the rule, because you have the power to be.