Monday, May 27, 2024

Military Or College?

( This week I read a rather heartbreaking article in the Guardian entitled “They called my university a Ph.D. factory – now I understand why.” (The author is, I believe, a woman with a doctorate in literature, but since she goes by “Anonymous Academic,” this is not certain.)

“When I was considering whether to study for a doctorate, I heard my chosen university disparaged as a Ph.D. factory,” notes the author. “At the time, I took this to be a sign of efficiency. Now I understand. Ph.D.s are manufactured; they drop off the end of a conveyer belt, but no one cares what happens to graduates after that. All universities care about are the fees paid by students and the cheap labor they provide. This is the opposite of efficiency: no factory would mindlessly churn out goods that no one wants. Even so, I began a Ph.D. knowing that I stood a very small chance of securing a permanent academic job at the end of it. Why didn’t I quit? Undoubtedly, self-delusion played a part.” [Emphasis added.]

Self-delusion? I’ll say. How many full-time positions are available to people with doctorates in literature? Now look at how many people are seeking doctorates in literature? Did this writer not assess the supply and demand before investing many years and untold amounts of money into her credentials? Don’t they include lessons in economics (or, dare I say, common sense) in Ph.D. programs? What was this woman thinking?

There is still an aura of superiority and elitism associated with college, especially post-college degrees (Master’s, Ph.D.) (and I say that as a woman with a master’s degree in biology). For obvious reasons, colleges and universities have strongly supported the myth that a college education is critical to getting a job … yet they routinely offer degrees with an actualnegative value. (Would you hire a Gender Studies major? For anything?)

(Insert obligatory disclaimer: Obviously, some fields require extensive education. I don’t want my surgeon learning his skills off YouTube videos.)

This leads me to wonder if a military education these days isn’t superior in many instances to a college education. As some readers may remember, our 19-year-old daughter enlisted in the Navy last fall. She is now training in Advanced Electronics/Computer Field and expects to be assigned to her first duty station later this year.

We’ve been following her academic endeavors with great interest. Her training in AECF will take about 18 months total; then she’ll be sent out in the fleet for her first tour of duty. When she finishes her six-year enlistment, she will have the option of re-enlisting or leaving the military and entering civilian life, where her skills (and status as a Navy veteran) will make her a hot commodity in the job market. This isn’t a guess on our part; this is something we’ve heard from a number of people in the know.

So why can’t colleges do the same thing? Why can’t they turn out highly educated young people in 18 months whose skills will be in hot demand? Why must it take, on average, five years and $100,000 in student loan debt for students to get their degrees in unemployable subjects?

Easy answer: College degrees are padded with superfluous fluff allegedly designed to “broaden” a student’s liberal-arts base. This can include some incredibly stupid courses such as “Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music” and “Race, Gender, Sexuality and U.S. Culture in Video Games” and “Zombies: Modern Myths, Race, and Capitalism.” In some colleges, students are told the study of algebra and geometry perpetuates “white privilege.”

These throw-away classes pad the coffers of the universities and offer employment to creepy instructors whose prurient obsessions are illegal in some cultures, and whose goal is to twist and bend their students until the attitudes and opinions of the students mirror those of their twisted, bent professors. And for this privilege, young people go into debt to the tune of tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars and emerge, in many cases, virtually unemployable.

This is known as putting B.S. in a B.S. degree.

Military training strips out all this nonsense. More tellingly, the military doesn’t train people in fields for which there is no demand. (Can you imagine the military offering training in Gender Studies?) Nor, I assure you, does it enlist the use of Care Bears for stressed-out students or other examples of SJW “safe spaces.” Instead they tell enlistees to sit down, shut up, and learn. Our daughter’s 18-month training will be an equivalent of a B.S. degree without the B.S.

After their service, veterans are often given preferential hiring because their work ethic and discipline is superior to that of most college grads. This may account for the increasing hostility toward veterans on college campuses. A newsletter circulating around one campus stated veterans should be banned from four-year universities, and compared the military culture to white supremacist groups (despite the military being one of the most diverse organizations on the planet). Why? Because veterans arescary.

Veterans – often those returning from horrifically war-torn parts of the world – have no tolerance for such things as “safe spaces” and “micro-aggressions.” More shocking, many veterans are (gasp!) politically conservative and might even (another gasp!) be religious. They’re mature and experienced enough not to tolerate snowflake baloney, and this is just too terrifying for the Social Justice Warriors.

And this, probably more than any other reason, is why our daughter is so pleased and proud to be in the military. It also explains why military service and training is superior to many college degrees these days: because it’s not a snowflake factory. By avoiding the progressive indoctrination (at least until she’s old enough to be immune to it), our daughter is not absorbing the victimhood mentality so prevalent in her generation. This – almost by itself – will set her head and shoulders above her peers as she enters adulthood.

Now refer back to the sad essay mentioned at the beginning of this column by “Anonymous Academic.” With that coveted Ph.D. in literature clutched in her hands, she now is questioning its worth. “An often-repeated line is that postgraduate study doesn’t have to be vocational; it’s worth pursuing for its own merits,” she laments. “The overwhelming majority of Ph.D. students I’ve encountered desperately want a career in academia. They didn’t saddle themselves with debt because they wanted intellectual stimulation. Given university marketing departments’ desperate trumpeting of the value of ’employability,’ it’s surprising that taught and research postgraduate degrees seem exempt from this consideration.”

I think this woman should have gotten her Ph.D. in common sense, not literature. That way she wouldn’t have wasted so much time and money to get “goods that no one wants.”

Columnist; Patrice Lewis

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