Letters to the Editor

Student impact

August 25, 2010


To the editor:

I met a former student working in a local fast food restaurant and wondered if he had heard about the dip in Kansas University’s academic rating (“Slip in rankings may reflect growing concerns at KU,” Journal-World, Aug. 21). I doubt it, though we were both a bit embarrassed.

Would this young American be better off had he invested his tuition dollars in travel, studied a trade, or started his own business? In the new economy, can young people afford a four-year academic rite of passage, where many students equate learning with glorified common sense, and where an equal number develop poor work habits (i.e. party hard, sleep late, skip class)? If we teach students how to think critically in high school, perhaps they will examine the wisdom of going deep in debt to earn a dubious university credential (regardless of ranking).


denak 7 years, 5 months ago

Ok that first sentence is poorly written. So, he wondered if the former student heard about the dip in academic rating, he doubted it but both were embarrassed. So, if he "wondered" about it, did he actually vocalize this and ask the individual? If he didn't, then how can he say they were both embarrassed. If he did, and the worker didn't know, why didn't he just write that.

It seems to me that the letter writer makes a serious of assumptions about the "fast food worker" solely on the basis of where he works. How long of a conversation, if any, did he have with this individual? How do you know that this individual hasn't traveled? How do you know he isn't planning on returning to school but took a semester or a year off to care for an aging parent or sick child? Mr Finch's assumption is that this man is a failure because of where he works and that, by this one example, he believes some students did not learn to think critically and that some people should not go to college because it puts them into debt. Well, did Mr. Finch ask this worker if he was in debt with school loans? Maybe he isn't and wouldn't that just shoot a huge hole in this argument.

If KU's academic ranking has slipped,it isn't the fault of this worker or even, to a certain extent, the KU student body. It is the fault of the KU leadership and staff. There will always be a certain percentage of students that blow off their education regardless of a university's (subjective) ranking. It is the leadership's responsibility to factor in this percentage and to come up with programs to address this issue and work to solve it.

I think Mr. Finch's bias and assumptions about fast food workers, color his argument and lead him to an erroneous conclusion.

Kookamooka 7 years, 5 months ago

It's hard to convince your child that college is important when they can point to so many highly successful Billionaires and people of worth who did not go the traditional 4 year college route. I remember working so hard and jumping through so many hoops only to graduate with paper in hand and no jobs in the market. Try working for bosses who make three times as much as you do who went into the workforce right out of high school.

mbulicz 7 years, 5 months ago

"When higher education ceases to be an indoctrination tool for neomarxists, maybe it would be worth re-examining."

I love how regressives use terms like "intelligentsia", "elitist", and "indoctrination" to refer to something they don't understand and therefore can't lodge a logical argument against.

I'm not knocking your stance; I'm saying your inability to elaborate or substantiate it meaningfully is further evidence of the pitfalls of avoiding higher education.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

"where many students equate learning with glorified common sense"

I have no idea what this means (how is common sense "glorified"?), but it smacks of the anti-intellectualism that is so common among regressives. Common sense will only get you so far; empirical investigation and rational deliberation often produce counter-intuitive results. Technically challenging endeavors, such as developing life-saving medicines or designing complex electrical and mechanical systems, require a lot more knowledge than simple (or even "glorified") common sense.

I realize that most regressives think their uneducated (i.e., common sense) opinions about anything and everything (e.g., evolution, climate change, economics, the Constitution) carry more weight than those of experts who have studied for years, but it just isn't so. Sadly, those who never went to college have no idea how little they actually know.

think_about_it 7 years, 5 months ago

My Grandpa used to talk about "educated fools" and how they always think that they are better than everyone else. See above post for an example.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

That's funny, my grandfather used to talk about "uneducated idiots" and how they think education is a waste of time. He must have met your Grandpa.

And for the record, being educated IS better than being uneducated. If you had an education, you'd know that.

think_about_it 7 years, 5 months ago

Being educated is better than being uneducated, I agree. What you fail to comprehend is that there are different kinds of education that may not involve a university.

Being an intellectual elitist does not mean that you are educated. I can assure you sir that you could not survive in my world with what you think you have learned in academia. Does that make you uneducated? I wonder.

begin60 7 years, 5 months ago

The quote strikes me as an accurate depiction of many students' take on knowledge. They are attending college mainly for vocational reasons.

parrothead8 7 years, 5 months ago

How did this economic disaster come about under Obama? Explain that one to us. Apparently you don't know much about how economies work, socialism, or U.S. history since 2000.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 5 months ago

The heart of the matter: People are fooled into thinking college is for your pocketbook and not your soul, spirit and sense of well-being. If all one wants is money, there are many jobs that pay well without the benefit of a college degree. Most people with advanced degrees make more than high school dropouts, but selling college as a vocational school intended to get one a job is a mistake.

KUDB99 7 years, 5 months ago

Great post, I agree with you completely....sadly though, it will fall on deaf ears with most of the wingnuts here. They preach religion, but despise spirituality. The scream for tolerance, but are completely intolerant of people not of their viewpoint.

verity 7 years, 5 months ago

Very well put.

Let me guess, you're one of those elitist educated people?

I find the anti-intellectualism that has become popular in our country very sad. My father had few regrets, but one was that he didn't get to go to college, although he made it a point to educate himself. He made sure that I had the chance to go to college. And while my parents wanted me to be able to pursue a career and take care of myself, they were as much or more concerned with my "soul, spirit and sense of well-being" although they probably didn't put it quite so poetically.

And Snakefist is completely right, "Common sense will only get you so far; empirical investigation and rational deliberation often produce counter-intuitive results."

parrothead8 7 years, 5 months ago

Yes, too many people go to college. The problem, as the LTE has (maybe) unknowingly pointed out, is that college is no longer viewed as the place where the best and brightest go to learn more, but simply as an "academic rite of passage."

If students are learning their work habits after they get to college, as the LTE mentions, then we have larger issues. Doesn't it seem counterintuitive to send kids off to a place where they should be gaining all sorts of advanced knowledge before we teach them the work ethic necessary to focus on such advanced activities as getting out of bed on time and going to class?

Finally...if we teach students to think critically in high school, they will be the ones who succeed in college. Too many people (and this is one both sides can agree on) accept facts at face value without understanding the applications of or implications inherent in those facts. Ask why, and if you don't get a straight answer then go find out for yourself. If you are armed with information, you can always trust yourself.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

Nothing wrong with more education and a 4 year degree. Follow up with a VO Tech education to learn a skill = more sellable and decent pay. Johnson County Comm College is a great choice.

Too bad Lawrence did not choose to finance a VoTech campus instead of strip malls.

College loans are difficult pay back anytime soon. They have become large profit products for commercial institutions. Too many new jobs out of college simply do not pay enough to meet demand.

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