Battlepanda: John Emerson could have saved my parents a lot of money


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

John Emerson could have saved my parents a lot of money

...if only they read this before they put down a pretty penny for my Amherst college education. Actually, I guess I'm an accidental liberal arts major -- I applied to a whole bunch of schools, my application was rejected as incomplete by almost all of them (it was an international application and the paperwork was a nightmare), and I accepted the Amherst offer before I even knew what the term 'liberal arts' even mean, because my aunt who lived in Boston told me Amherst is a well-regarded school.

In hindsight, a liberal arts education was not exactly the most sensible option for me, career wise. Not that most people from Amherst aren't doing excellently (reading the alumni magazine is sickening), but having made some unfortunate decisions along the way, I'm not one of them. I (personally) would have been better off doing my business degree at NYU.

But heck. I'm sure I had more fun at Amherst. I can't quite bring myself to regret my choice.

Incidentally, I agree with John in that the pleasure of intellectual pursuits is completely open to anyone willing to invest their time and use their noggin'. Personally, I don't think I really came of age intellectually until I left the academic environment.

As for John's call for separating 'enrichment' from practical education, I have a slightly different take. I think too much of higher education in general has become about signalling -- you don't learn what you need to know, you show that you have the ability to learn what you need to know. Or, that's the more charitable view anyhow. It's a problem because, from a social justice point of view, spreading higher education becomes a self-defeating -- if everybody has a status symbol, it ceases to be a status symbol.