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Hear hear! It wasn't until I got to graduate school that I had an idea of what I wanted. Consequently, I never missed a class, and got much better grades than I did in college.

Not everybody needs to go to college, and the possession of a college degree does not automatically guarantee wisdom. One of the best managers I ever worked for never went beyond high school. The worst (a childish petty tyrant) was getting a PhD in management.

I did get a lot out of college, though, and the best thing I got was a group of friends who have stuck by me (and I've stuck by them) for 30 years. They're worth more to me than the college degree.


I think it's pretty simple: for most students (and a goodly percentage of parents and administrators) a degree is the goal, not the learning that it's supposed to certify. As long as that's the case, then effort (including attendance in class) will usually be an irritating bother to be endured, not an opportunity to be seized. This is not a new condition, of course. I used to cut classes with the worst of 'em.


To go off on a tangent, I don't know about the States, but here in Canada the "4-year college for all by default" mentality of the education system has led to an unintended consequence - a serious shortage of trades people. Our own province has just launched a refreshed approach to apprenticeship programs and invested in aggressive recruitment to encourage kids to consider studying for a trade (plumbing, electrical, carpentry, etc) instead of going to a uni.

In our own case, when our furnace guy retired, nobody was interested in taking over the business, and it took us 2 years to find another service taking customers.


I forget where I read it, but it has been said the only thing most college degrees prove to potential employers is that one is trainable.

re TOM BROWN'S SCHOOL DAYS: The villain of the story, Flashman, ended up as the hero of a series of well written & utterly hilarious historical novels by the late George MacDonald Fraser. Highly recommended.

Mike Peterson

I don't know that a year off between high school and college wouldn't benefit just about everyone. A friend's daughter spent a year in Italy as an au pair before enrolling at Ithaca, and the college had happily admitted her with a deferred entry. I'm sure they didn't mind having a more mature kid on their hands.

Meanwhile, we're not completely out of competent craftsmen down here, but we're working on it.

As for Flashman, I was surprised, upon reading the book, at how little he figures in it. He's certainly a major bad guy while he's there, but I expected him cover-to-cover and he's not at all. Apparently, he got a better agent by the time Fraser took up his thread!

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