We always wonder why the US has the problems that it has. Here are some facts that might explain it.

How can the people unable to read at a 6th grade level overlap with the people that have gone to, and in some cases graduated from, college? The answer is simple- education is failing us by charging money without delivering the finished product.

I am about to finish my latest Bachelor’s Degree. This one will be in nursing. The majority of the classes (all but one) had nothing to do with nursing or actually delivering health care. No, the college classes I took concentrated on the following the format of APA citations. Use a comma in a footnote, when you should have used a period? That gets you a C on the paper.

College is largely a useless waste of time. The only reason why I even bothered to get the BSN is that my employer paid for it, and promised me a 7% raise for finishing it.

Categories: Failure of Education


Plague Monk · March 21, 2024 at 10:29 am

Even in the STEM community, there is a lot of unneeded college work required. I started drafting in late 1983, taking an adult education class, and went on to a successful career in manual drafting, and later getting into CAD and specifically Unigraphics.

By the mid 90s, credentialism was on the rise in the field, and so with the support of my wife, I went to a well regarded two year program in upstate NY in fall 2001. The main instructor knew nothing about 3D modeling, and I was the one who largely taught the course, even though it used the garbage program called Solid Works(which is almost as bad as Autodesk).

Most of the other students were young enough to be my kids, and the classes were surprisingly easy for anyone with any real world experience. After graduation, I found that all I needed was the paper saying I had the AAS. I never used the crap that I spent four semesters sitting in a classroom listening to the instructor talk about his high school hockey coaching side gig. I learned more useless things about the players and their girlfriends than I did about working in an actual engineering design office.

Tests were open book, and I was exempted from most of them because I had taught the classes, which most of the other students resented. I also helped the instructor write a paper in a class that he was taking for his doctorate in engineering education. What a joke!

Cederq · March 21, 2024 at 12:59 pm

My experience closely matched yours. Wait until you enter a Masters program, I did in both Nursing and Behavioral Science at the same time. I spent more time studying useless courses that were mandated and piled on that were irrelevant to my stated studies. The schools were more interested in mulcting students of sometimes hard earned money and a greater chance at spreading the unholy propaganda that I had to endure with out biting my tongue and pulling a Ted K… In the end, now that I am retired, it was a waste of time and money. It gave me a small increase in wages, but to make better money I would have had to go into upper management and I don’t have the patience or temperament for the that type of office politics and dealing with government bureaucrats.

oldvet50 · March 22, 2024 at 6:27 am

Wasn’t it George Carlin that stated the obvious about intellect? Half the people are of below average intelligence. Given the fact that they can also vote, it’s a wonder our country has lasted as long as it has.

Paulb · March 22, 2024 at 7:51 am

I was extremely fortunate even in the mid-90’s to be able to parlay a year-long independent research fellowship in the UK for the equivalent of a year’s worth of gen-ed credits as an undergrad here in the US. I came out of undergrad with over a dozen publications in neuroscience and ecological modeling, as well as a draft of my master’s thesis as a result. THAT is what filler classes and social engineering attempts prevent when applied to STEM students, because I was an unexceptional student but could outwork and outshmooz anyone. Imagine what the US could do if we treated STEM education like a vocational school.

    Plague Monk · March 22, 2024 at 12:01 pm

    PaulB, I’m just curious as to how neuroscience and ecological modeling merge? I’m not criticizing; I think that it is really cool, and kudos to you for doing so well.

Plague Monk · March 22, 2024 at 11:57 am

A few points come to mind:

First, someone I know who reads this site thought that I was $hitting on hockey, particularly ice hockey. That wasn’t my intention; I wanted more instruction for the kids on what it is really like working in a professional setting where deadlines are real, and the need for maximum effort by ALL of the team members, including the newbies(me: 1995 Kodak pushing to get their part of the Chandra X-Ray Telescope done. First time on UG as a detailer supporting several designers). There was NOTHING about this in the program, and I ended up doing most of the work for the 4 teams set up for projects. This came shortly after having been diagnosed with Diabetes…

I also tried to convey the thrill of completing the assignment and getting thanked for the hard work by either the client supervisor or by the customer rep, but that too was actively discouraged in the program, and apparently in most STEM programs that I’m aware of.

STEM seems to be taught as being a life of drudgery, although sometimes well paid. I worked some assignments that were dreadful; problems with where I was renting, client problems, and some health challenges. Yet most of the time I enjoyed working, and I don’t like being retired, but I can’t work on the road anymore. There is little professional work in SW Ohio these days.

Solving puzzles is FUN!!! We were bused to see what we had been working on at Kodak for (in my case 2.5 years), and we were all higher than kites as we saw how our drawings had been turned into metal and fabric. It was marred only by the recent death of the drafting boss, Terry S, who never got to see his efforts in turning things around(and brought me into the UG community)

PaulB, I agree with your point about treating STEM education like a vocational school. I have regretted for decades the fact that I didn’t get into drafting while in high school, as opposed to the gifted programs that I eagerly(and foolishly)submersed myself in for so many years. OTOH, this way I met, wooed and married the love of my wife, some 45 years ago.

DM, I won’t be offended if you delete this without publishing it. This is one of my hot button topics, I fear. I enjoyed sitting at a desk/drafting board for almost 40 years, and I hoped to do so for another 20.

C · March 22, 2024 at 1:45 pm

I think it’s a culture thing now. There is no desire to learn and no pride in what you do anymore.

I had poor grades through my public schooling. I’m quite good at finding patterns and I’m a pack rat when it comes to paper documents. During a move I started going through all my stuff from school. All my test and quiz papers. Every one I passed had maybe a handful of problems with fractions and decimals. Everyone I failed had enough of them to drag my score down to failing.

When I got interested in trades I got to learn how important fractions and decimals were. I wanted to understand it. Couldn’t get that need to know out of my brain. So I bought elementary workbooks and taught myself.

I would love to get a trade job. Weather and being filthy doesn’t bother me. Problem is nobody in this region pays worth a shit for help. $10-13.00 hr is the offered rate for most of trade related businesses around here. That buys you Mexicans and drug addicts. All the fast food places offer around here pay that. Even Walmart offers $14hr. Factories are offering $15-21hr. Me? I’m not accepting anything less than $15hr. No takers even though I’ve got a solid work history, a clean background, I know residental building code, and I have about $4k in my own tools.

So I’m chilling at the local ED as a babysitter. Climate control with a department that is about 90% female. Every now and then somebody needs some minor electrical/plumbing work done. My rates are a whole lot cheaper than any local business. I take pride in my work. So “Good enough” isn’t in my vocabulary.

My best buddy in the ED is a grumpy RN that previously retired as an AF Major. He hates nursing, and loves carpentry. He retires from nursing in a couple years. Said from then on he’s going to fish and make furniture until he drops. I’ll miss him.

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