Originally Posted by ficbot
Interesting points. I remember when my grandmother was in her 20's, she went to university for an English degree and she was an anomaly for her time. Then my mother went to, and you could go to university and be guaranteed a good job. Now? University degrees are what high school degrees used to be. They seem to be expected for even minimal jobs, but you are by no means promised steady, well-paying work just for having them.
As far as 'well-rounded citizen' goes, I have seen high school reading lists posted to this board which have stuff I did not read until university. But a few years after I graduated, a new 'harder' curriculum came out and maybe it has more stuff. I did find my first year university courses helpful---most of them were chronological survey-type things and it really was very useful to have a whole chronological overview like that. But then again. I had a few high school courses that were like that too. One called 'Modern Western Civilizations' was exactly like a university course, with a teacher who lectured, college-style, and we took notes. Other courses like English were pretty much 'the 10 things we don't want you to miss just in case you never take English again' and moved far too slowly.
I like what I have heard about the Quebec system. They finish high school a year early and then some of them go into a 1-2 year college prep stream called CEGEP. If you do go to university later, you can get credit for these. I'd love to see all the 'well-rounded person' stuff go into a 'prep' year like this where you take the survey courses and get a grounding in the basics. Then I would like to see the colleges be more practical-based. A 'liberal arts education' is a luxury---an expensive one---in this economy. I would like to see things return to the days when a university degree meant that you would have a better job. If you are paying that much for it, it should get you something other than just being a 'well-rounded person.'
When I started college back in '67, a degree in anything guaranteed a better job in anything (the degree didn't have to be related to the job) but by the time I got out in '71, it flipflopped completely. Jobs were scarce and unless your degree matched the field you were job searching in, it was worthless. Or worse; often, employers wouldn't touch you if you had a college degree for fear you would move on when the job market loosened up. The only way I was able to get a job anywhere (a gas station) was to "forget" to mention I had a college degree when I applied. The owner of the franchise found out later I had a degree and told me he never would have hired me if he had known I had a degree. I told him, "I know, that's why I didn't tell you." He didn't let me go because I was already trained and he would have had to do that all over with a new employee.