And today on People Who Read My Mind...


Over at Pandagon, Amanda has a great post up about college education and class. Amanda and I seem to have many of the same experiences and thoughts on the subject, but she's much more professional sounding in her analysis and doesn't curse. You should read it.

The discussion to which Amanda's post is responding (taking place here and here, mostly) is one I also have thought on. Many thoughts. See, I have one of those useless degrees (mine is in history, which isn't on the list, but trust me, it's similar to those listed), and it's from an expensive private liberal arts college. According to the camp that thinks college should be about obtaining some sort of certification that will guarantee you a big income, and that you should do that at the lowest possible cost to yourself, I did pretty much everything wrong. I went into fat debt to get a degree in something that has no job possibilities, basically.

Except. Except for everything Amanda said about cultural capital. Except that every job I've had since college has required a degree, though none of them have required my exact degree. Except that I am 28 years old and firmly planted in the middle class (with fairly significant upward mobility). Except that that undergraduate degree opened up a whole bunch of graduate possibilities, some of which (law school, an MBA, etc.) may well have led to big money. That I didn't chose any of those paths is on me--I could have, and the undergraduate education I received at my schmancy liberal arts college would have put me in a good place to get into good schools (as it did with the path I did choose for graduate school, public policy programs).

And except that at the end of the day, I'm one of those crazy liberals who really values my education for its own sake. Sure, I complain about my student loan debt, and about the upper-crust ivory tower and how little of the real world it sees, but if I'm forced to be honest, I know that I spent four years getting a first-rate education in a subject that I was and am passionate about, and whatever else I ever do, that was worth my time.

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April 2012

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