Over at the Daily Duck, Oroborous posts on college as a financial investment. His conclusion is that college makes no sense except for those who can go cheaply and study practical subjects. The rest of us should just go to trade school.
On the underlying subject, I find myself torn. College degrees are much too common in the States, where college, at least partially, plays the role high school played in the past and still plays in many nations. As we've recently discussed, college degrees are required for jobs where they simply aren't needed. Non-graduates can do the job just as well.
So I'm open to the idea that our high schools should step up and be more substantive. I'm open to the idea that not every child needs to go to college. I agree that a good trade school education could be better for both society and students than the current system. (I think that there might well be a nice analogy with Affirmative Action lurking around here. Not the least sin of AA is that qualified minority candidates get accepted to more rigorous schools than they would if they didn't receive points for their minority status. That is, after all, the whole point of AA. These students, who would do perfectly well in the schools they would have attended absent AA typically have a very hard time in the schools into which they are affirmatively admitted. Similarly, I've met any number of people who show up every day to an office job they hate rather than the trade job they would love. It only adds insult to injury that the trade jobs can be very well paid these days. According to this story, 37 Massachusetts State Troopers made more than $200,000 last year.)
But I am surprised that this argument is made by Oroborous on the Daily Duck. While it is not true of all bloggers, it is true of many bloggers -- and I think that of the entire post-Judd alliance plus OJ -- that blogging is a sympton of insufficient intellectual stimulation in real life. This seems so self-evident as to be almost definitional -- someone who blogs is someone who gets out of blogging something that he or she wasn't otherwise getting out of life. A sense of community, certainly. An opportunity to socialize with others you almost certainly wouldn't meet otherwise. But most clearly, an outlet for opinions that would otherwise be unexpressed and exposure to ideas that wouldn't otherwise be met.
People who blog, it seems to me, are largely people who should also enjoy college. Reading Shakespeare or studying history may be difficult to justify economically; the return on investment could even be negative. But it's a lot of fun and the rewards (although solipsistic) are real. This is the conclusion I've drawn about my own blogging -- it is a symptom of a real lack of intellectual stimulation.
In fact, based upon my blogging and my conclusions about what blogging means, I've turned my life completely upside down and set my life on a course that is, I think, surprising and completely impossible to justify economically.