Scourge and Transparency

The Rise and Fall of Advanced Social Journalism during the Early Twenty-First Century

Posts Tagged ‘post secondary education

Post-Secondary Education Is A God Damn Joke

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At the young yet somewhat experienced age of 28 (going on 29) I have finally received an undergraduate honours’ degree. My major was political science; it took me about five years and I entered university after getting a college diploma in journalism. I now have somewhere around twenty-five thousand dollars in debt from student loans and just got back from an interview to wash dishes at minimum wage for three days a week. In short: I have wasted a shit tone of money and time on something completely and utterly worthless. What follows is a list of my detailed grievances as well as a warning for anyone about to enter a post-secondary institution and a big “GO FUCK YOURSELF” to all those involved in academia.  

First off when I was naïve enough to register for school I was told by countless acquaintances, friends and relatives a plethora of misinformation, ignorance and otherwise fucking bullshit. So many people said these exact words to me “you have to go to school (university or college)” or “you should study what you like.” I was a big enough idiot to take their guidance.  It’s obvious from my current job hunting that I never had to go to school and as for the second quote – I should have realized that what I actually like is to sit on my fucking ass all day! What they should have said instead of “like”is “tolerate” and if I had heard that I would not have wasted time and money and just kept going from dead-end up job to the next or looked for an occupation where I could slack off enough and still get benefits. Having said this I do – or did – like writing (hence journalism) as well as politics when I was registering for school, however,  one does not get the some sort of quality of education or certification when taking courses in these broad topics as one would in studying to become a lawyer, doctor or engineer.

I’m going to sum up at least seventy-five percent of every course outline (syllabus or what-the-fuck it’s called!) for every course I was required to take in political science at university. For each class one academic essay was to be written from about 10 to 20 pages on something vaguely related to the course over a period of 4 months and there was either an exam – that consistently mostly of a single essay question – and/or a presentation on something vaguely related to the course. These projects were then marked – and I am convinced of this – in at best a completely subjective manner or more than likely arbitrarily by an individual (teacher assistant or professor) whose only qualification was that they had written more of these bullshit meaningless essays than those you are submitting them. I would compare the marking of an academic essay to that of a movie review. Someone who is “educated” in the field gives their opinion of a product with absolutely no scientific calculation and justification for the difference between an A- and a B+ or an explanation for exactly how many marks was lost for not using italics properly on a god damn fucking footnote!

Here is how I wrote every essay I submitted at university – I picked a bullshit subject that seemed easy, searched the key words in a database, found quotes in other bullshit essays that were long, took up space and agreed with my prejudices, slapped the quotes in my paper and reiterated the same points over and over again until I reached the number of pages required. This could all be accomplished in a matter of a few hours. I did not learn from the subject under review nor was I required to. For many of my courses I was forced to provide a hard copy of this drivel with complete disregard for the environment, the cost of printing and the obvious ability many of us have to read off a screen.  Like I said – most of the marking was arbitrary and I was usually lucky enough for the wheel to spin to my advantage.  I got mostly As or Bs and some Cs. I learned early on that working hard on an essay, speaking with the TA or prof about your thesis and actually researching a subject could end you up with a C- just as much as pulling 10 pages out of your ass the night before it’s due could get you an A.

If you’re still considering putting down five grand a year to study humanities or social sciences, or what-the-shit majors like history or political science fall under, allow me to defecate in a more narrow way on how a course in subjects like these will go. In my intro to political science class I did not understand ONE FUCKING WORD that the prof was saying – he might as well have been farting the entire time and I could have learned more from him. I got an A in the course… The professors also like to list off these “required readings” on the course outline. This by no means what-so-fucking ever has you obligated to read every page of the book. In fact I gave up on spending EXTRA money on these extremely expensive and absolutely worthless soft cover boring pieces of shit after a couple of years. The professors are often nice enough to detail what pages “need” to be read for each lecture and I do not recall in my first naïve and ignorant years of university ever being “required” to read  more than eve half any given book – however we were supposed to purchase the entire thing anyway. As matter of bitter fact I remember a course in which I was horseshit dumb enough to purchase only half the required readings and pay attention in class and to my common person surprise the only single instance when THREE BOOKS TOTALLY OVER 20 DOLLARS EACH was even mentioned was on an optional question on an exam in which the student was asked to pick one of the three books to discuss!! What needs to be understood is that professors have no ethical boundaries – they something is “required,” students buy more money after tuition and the prof throws it out the window.  Of course the university hands out these little customer review sheets when each course is finished – the answers of which are kept secret from future students and serve no purpose to those currently enrolled whose grade depends solely on the mood and personality of the “intellectual” who will mark their paper.

At this point I am assuming that many of you would call me a pessimist or even a cynic. To you I say why don’t you throw 25 grand and 7 years of your life down the fucking toilet so you can earn minimum wage and then look at the glass half fucking full!! I’ve heard a lot of people and pupils say “well you learned a lot about research and writing at university” which is bull-fucking-shit because all I did was rap words around quotes and then repeat myself over-and-over again. There is not one god damn occupation (outside of the ivory tower of academia) that pays someone full time wages to write an essay every four months. University gives you nothing to bring to the work force – N-O-T-H-I-N-G! I’ve also heard the argument that “employers” are now looking for people with more than just an undergrad degree because so many people have them these days. To this I say “What fucking ‘employers’? Who are they? For what kind of work? And are they so dumb to believe that even higher education would somehow qualify you for the real world?!” If writing  pointless 10-20 page essays for years wasn’t enough “education” what in god’s fucking green earth is writing an 50-100 pages of boring ass crap going to do for me?! For fuck’s sake I was never even taught to write a memo or been subject to a 40 hour work week!

Is the whole work force just transfixed on this façade?  A piece of paper on the wall? Behind it which exists a waste of time and money…The prejudices of the world flummox me. So many people are impressed by honours degrees, master’s degrees and phds – they are about as hollow and gabbing as the soul and vagina of a heroin addicted dime store hooker! I learned and experienced nothing in university that I could not have picked up on the internet for absolutely free. And that framed piece of toilet paper on my wall should not have cost me – or the taxpayers – anything!

And while many like to suck university’s dick they seem to think of college (community college to the yanks) as something for the commoners or a bit of joke. However in my two years at college I experienced the equivalent to an actual job! Every day I had something new to do and it had to be done by the end of the day – I was responsible for people and to people on a day-to-day basis. I was not asked to maybe or maybe not show up for a lecture, or read or not read boring drivel every week and then come up with 10 pages of crap in four months. I had a serious and regularly stressful schedule – like a real fucking job! However I studied journalism at college which was stupid because you don’t really need a certificate in this to work in the field like you would in accounting or computer programming. In my defence I took this program because I was told to study what I “like.”

Now, I never intended to offend anyone who is or has studied at university to become a doctor or lawyer or gone to college so they could work in a trade. I think the people in programs like these might actually learn something. But what I hope I have accomplished is to piss off anyone who gets paid to write and mark essays at a university. I have also tried to explain to everyone that instead of paying to “study” abstract subjects I am vaguely interested in I could have read a book and used the rest of my money to buy a house, travel the world and have a lot of sex with hot hookers.


The Ivory Tower of Shit

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Today we’re going to talk about education, that’s right, education. You may or may not be aware but I have a community college diploma and am on my way to getting a university degree. But to be completely frank both systems don’t add up to much more than the paper they’re written on. Being the cynic I am I can only truly appreciate something when using it to criticize another item. When I was in college I thought there was nothing dumber than it. And now that I’m in university I can’t rap my mind around what all the hoopla is about.

I have an advanced (whatever the fuck that means) diploma in ‘Journalism: Print & Broadcast’ from the somewhat respectable, and hardly known outside the Hamilton Mountain, Mohawk College. And what does two years of courses, assignments and residency add up to – one point above shit. Because, lets get real, who the hell is hiring journalists? They’re not like tradesmen, technicians or those with an education in business or marketing that are always needed. However I have only my self to blame for studying what I did. I don’t much regret spending two years of my life and the incredibly over-priced tuition/ancillary fees to attend that program. The parties were sick and the people were great.

The problem with community college is that program coordinators are given the power to hire instructors as they choose. Some of these individuals may have no training as a teacher what so ever and also leave much to be desired in the area of social skills. Furthermore many don’t take their jobs very seriously. This apathy is the consequence of a college instructor’s only real value: their experience in the industry. Many individual course instructors are people that have worked in the field being studied. Unfortunately those that do cannot necessarily teach as well. And just like the students in the class, so many of the instructors are more concerned with putting something on their resume than the actual curriculum.

The area of lecturer inexperience is something that is shared between college and university. Professors may have a PhD (and in some cases don’t even possess this title) but they are certainly capable of not be able to convey ideas to a crowd of people. In fact, some are god-awful at it. And again, professors are often more concerned with their research and not their lecturing or marking.

The real shit part about university is the lack of social and workplace experience it offers. All that is required from the student in an individual social sciences’ course is to write at most 15 pages of double spaced drivel on god-knows-what and complete a maximum of 2 tests on the course material. What does that teach us about life or the work place? Shit. There are not many jobs that only require producing an academic paper every 4 months (outside of academia of course). And let’s face it: research papers, in all their eccentric and unnecessary glory,  are possibly the stupidest things to exist next to compact disc packaging.

College, on the other hand, gives students the experience of writing the odd paper but also having a schedule to adhere by and being responsible for smaller and more frequent assignments that mimic the activity of an actual workplace. While in university you may (or may not) know how to write a 20-page thesis but not have the faintest idea of how to produce a simple 50-word memo.

It is not only the weight that is given to essays alone at university but also a paper’s individual vagueness and absurdity that is problematic. It could be easily said that no one knows how to write a proper paper. I am entering my third year of undergrad studies with a good standing grade point average and besides knowing how to cite and use spell-check I have no further understanding of what makes a good essay. I have continually read the “comments section” of my supposedly marked paper and it is quite arguable that if I put my thumb over the grade the review could reflect anything from a C+ to an A. Shockingly this is all that is provided as far as marking is concerned in university – no rubric, no addition or subtraction of actual marks, no individual weight given to certain areas and no proper assessment of mistakes or “good points” beyond the word count and bibliography. This is sad and paradoxical. If universities are such prestigious institutions and hold essays in such high regard why do they provide less of explanation for the marking of papers than Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert do in their 2 thumbs down review of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls? The marking that teaching assistants are required to do is about equal to a short movie review blurb.

I suppose I will never complain about a grade I receive above an A-, however if you decide that my paper is not fantastic than I’d like to be enlightened on how marks are categorically deducted for improper citation or a weak title.

When I come out of university I will have two things: a piece of paper that says I have an honours degree in political science and the knowledge that incompetency and ignorance exists in the most respectable and hierarchical of organizations. In fact, it can be assumed through the education I have, or have not, received that bullshit is rife and relevant in almost every aspect of society.