Friday, May 18, 2012


I’m Beatrice Bell.  My friends call me Bea.  I’m a fairly intelligent woman with a high school diploma  and I’m retired now,  but during my life-time I think I earned a pretty good living.  I’m not well-to-do but I have enough money to meet my needs and wants and I’m relatively happy.  However, one of the regrets of my life is that I did not get a college education.

I tried to instill in my children a love of learning and my late husband and I managed to put both of our sons through college with financial assistance from grants and scholarships.  Plus, our boys worked while they were in school.  You see by being vested in their college educations, I believe that they appreciated it more.

Back when I was growing up the old folks used to always stress that I should get a high school education so that I could get a “really good job.”  Nowadays to be considered for almost any “really good job” a college degree is almost a must.  It seems that a lot of people are trying to do just that. Turn on the TV or radio or read a newspaper or magazine and you’ll see an ad for a college of some kind. These days it seems there is no way to not get a college degree.  There are traditional colleges, accelerated courses, trade schools, virtual colleges, and weekend degrees. Yet, I’ve discovered one thing over the years and that is just because a person has a degree doesn’t mean that they’re educated, and I mean that in more ways than one. 

I don’t want to generalize, but I’ve always suspected that there are a lot of people with degrees that still have no education.  After reading an article by Andrea Neal, who is an adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, it seems that my suspicion may be justified.

Neal cited some of the following statistics:

According to the National Research Council, as of 2007 there was “A pervasive lack of knowledge about foreign cultures and foreign languages threatens the security of the United States as well as its ability to compete in the global market.

·         85 percent of college students can graduate without taking an intermediate level foreign language course,

·         In 80 percent of schools students don’t have to take a class in U. S. History

·         In 34 percent of schools, students don’t have to enroll in a single math class

It’s not just that the education that a lot of students receive may not be worth the paper it’s printed on, but according to Neal, a  study by economists Frederic Pryor and David Schaffer, conducted in the year 2000, showed that a growing number of college graduates were taking “high school” jobs because of their low level of cognitive skills.  That means that they don’t know how to think through a problem. 

You see the world in general, and the business world in particular, is shrinking. In order to get the “good jobs” of today, at the very least students need some knowledge about how the world works.  They need the ability to speak a language besides English, and they need to understand how different cultures work.  Our college students are competing with bright minds from all over the world and an intimate knowledge of video games just won’t cut it.

They say that knowledge is power.  Today’s students need that knowledge and to get it they will have to roll up their sleeves and prepare to work If they truly want to get a better job and make more money, they’ll need to do their part.  That means taking harder classes, spending most of their time studying their subjects and actually attending classes.  People who really want to be educated will have to search for schools that make them use their minds and that will help them to develop their thinking skills.

The first step in developing cognitive skills is being able to figure out that if you spend thousands of dollars for a degree, it ought to be worth more than just the paper it is printed on. Students need to take the college courses that will make them well-rounded, and for goodness sakes, students should make sure that whatever institution of higher learning that they attend is at least accredited. But beware! Neal’s article points out that many accredited schools aren’t up to par when it comes to developing the skills that graduates need.   So please!  Muse on that.

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