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  1. Member
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    Default Is a Degree worthless

    So im about a year in a half away from finishing a BS in computer networking. I was wondering if anyone has ever benefited from liberal arts classes. As for my situation i have finished all but 2, philosophy which i hate more than anything and then i have a music appreciation course left. As for the classes i have finished, Geology for example, i studied and passed the class just last semester but if you ask me today what type of random rock this is a the ground i couldn't tell you to save my life. In short i literally don't remember any liberal arts course material iv taken, if i don't use it i forget, i cant remember most math and english courses i have taken, but the reason i wanted to ask the original question is because my philosophy instructor said a University makes you a critical thinker, that its not meant to be all about skill sets. Other none grades that i know in computer networking have said its just a scam, i barley have time to study networking cause im to caught up with wrapping my head around parmenidies and what is, is and what is not, is not ?. Ya BS.
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  3. Little Teapot LeBroke's Avatar
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    #2
    Blah blah something something "well-rounded education."

    In practice, I've benefitted from hard science classes, and there were a few liberal arts classes I've benefitted from. But they were classes that made me think about social issues.

    I've also had a lot of fun doing a few acting courses in my first year.

    But all in all, this is precisely why I hate what universities have become. It's now about taking people who didn't like school to begin with and would rather do something useful/practical, and make them do 4 more years of it.

    Your philosophy prof has a point... If you're an upper middle class scion with a college fund and a nice career waiting for you regardless of what you study or how you do in university. Then you can dedicate your time and money to becoming a better/more rounded/more intellectual person, or simply following passion pursuits.

    For working class stiffs like us, it's a scam by elitist academics who are the 0.5% that were able to succeed in academia, and don't know anything else, but they push this viewpoint on everyone else and see academia as the only viable/respectful path. Doing actual work is for peasants who are too stupid to dedicate their life to intellectual pursuits (probably need the /s in here).

    Finally, I've noticed that the more useless the class, the more a professor will justify it like it's the most important thing in the world, and you will literally be a hobo and die if you don't take Latvian Folk Dance as seriously as they do (much the same as with high school teachers... math or shop teachers are usually pretty chill, but god forbid you don't devote your life passion to a mandatory semester-long music or art class). I kind of understand where they're coming from.... for them it's literally their life passion, and they are trying to get people into it. But it's annoying for everyone who doesn't share their passion.
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    #3
    First, I think a STEM degree is much more worthwhile in the majority of cases than anything "liberal arts". However, I do think some liberal arts coursework in pursuit of a degree can be helpful for someone to get more "well-rounded". After all IT careers aren't always just about the technology.

    My first degree, earned 25 years ago before IT was as vast as it is now, was in English/Speech, mostly because the local university was a hodge-podge satellite campus that only offered about 5 degree programs you could complete without quitting your full-time job to go on-campus out of town. I took lots of writing courses and speech courses. However, I've used the skills I learned in that liberal arts coursework in the IT jobs I would have years later. After all, I've had to communicate with management and customers, do presentations, write documentation, etc. I work with a number of very sharp techies that lack these fundamental skills that would generally be dismissed as "liberal arts" material.

    Now, I have a couple AAS degrees in IT, and am near finishing a BS. Still, my BA coursework has been valuable in my career. And actually, the writing experience has helped me immensely in my pursuit of my BS, because I have had to do lots of report writing.

    This isn't to say that all liberal arts coursework is valuable, but some can be. I suppose someone taking an Art Appreciation course while working on an IT degree seems a waste, however if that person finds themselves interviewing for an IT position at a museum, understanding something about art may actually be useful - if nothing else but to converse with potential employers during an interview.
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    #4
    Just a guess, but probably in words "critical thinking" the prof had the same meaning as if in "critical theory". Modern western education is full of it, no doubt.
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  6. They are watching you NetworkNewb's Avatar
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    #5
    I had some "film" class in college where we got to watch movies all the time and then wrote small papers about topics on them. This class definitely bumped up my GPA... So I didn't find it entirely worthless.
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    #6
    I used to think about the same question when I was younger but I've come to accept college for something else. College is more than a degree and/or a bunch of classes you don't want to take. It's about showing employers you can commit yourself to a 2-4 endeavor, it shows you can learn material you're not interested in (because we all know we will eventually learn something we don't want to at work), it teaches you to interact with others and hopefully build team skills, and a bunch of other things. I don't necessarily agree with a lot of companies making it mandatory that you have a degree but the older I get, the more I can see why they do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MalwareMike View Post
    I used to think about the same question when I was younger but I've come to accept college for something else. College is more than a degree and/or a bunch of classes you don't want to take. It's about showing employers you can commit yourself to a 2-4 endeavor, it shows you can learn material you're not interested in (because we all know we will eventually learn something we don't want to at work), it teaches you to interact with others and hopefully build team skills, and a bunch of other things. I don't necessarily agree with a lot of companies making it mandatory that you have a degree but the older I get, the more I can see why they do.
    Now if only I didn't have to take out so much in student loans to do it that it basically means I can't even begin saving for a downpayment for another 3-5 years (best case scenario) despite being 30, I'd be a lot more favourable to it.

    As it stands, university is very very overpriced for what it offers if you don't have a degree that's directly relevant to what you do as a career (i.e. in our case, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or at least an MIS).
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  9. Are we having fun yet? UnixGuy's Avatar
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    #8
    They're a means to an end. if the degree gets you where you want to be, then they're not completely worthless.

    If you're not 100% sure where you want to be (which is usually the case when one is just fresh out of high school), then they can also show you one possible path and get you to a career. so not completely worthless.


    Some classes within a degree can be useless.,,but they might improve your communication skills, they might just take your mind off hard science classes...so they can be indirectly useful. Are they ideal? No

    Are there other paths better than university? Yes, for some people. A trade or starting a business can be good options...but going to Med School can also lead to an extremely lucrative career...so there is no one path that's ideal for everyone.

    Enjoy the classes now, you will miss them in the furue
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  10. Are we having fun yet? UnixGuy's Avatar
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBroke View Post
    ..

    As it stands, university is very very overpriced for what it offers ...

    Student loans is a north America specific problem. The rest of the world, not so bad.

    Then again, even in North America, the return on investment for some degrees are priceless so they're not entirely a waste. They get you 6 figures careers that will pay off the student & future mortgage. Not a bad deal if you ask me
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by MalwareMike View Post
    It's about showing employers you can commit yourself to a 2-4 endeavor, it shows you can learn material you're not interested in (because we all know we will eventually learn something we don't want to at work), it teaches you to interact with others and hopefully build team skills, and a bunch of other things.
    Yep, that's the main argument of Bryan Caplan's "The case against education". He argues that it is barely anything more than just a pure virtue signaling of employability. Very expensive virtue signaling.
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    #11
    I doubt it, im 30 years old with 7 years Army background and i know the difference between class and boots on the ground and with the 4 years of schooling so far i can admit that everything i have learned i would bet my balls on that i will never use, nor apply to any position that wanted me to know about geology, art, ex. College by far without a doubt has been the most worthless/blood boiling experience of my life. My degree will not be hung up in a room someplace cause i wont be able to stand the sight of it in all honesty.
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    #12
    Ya, everything iv been tought i can learn for free online 100 percent. As for the IT training, a home kit and a subscription to cbt nuggets its better.
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    #13
    Welcome to the professional world.....you are going to do plenty of things that you DON'T WANT TO DO because you have to. Being able to focus on topics not interesting to you makes you think in situations you aren't as comfortable and that is definitely a skill you will need. Math and English aren't going to be topics you want to forget....they might not be to the serious extent you are studying but there is a good chance you will use them at some point....especially English....writing procedures, emails, other communications, etc.
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  15. Are we having fun yet? UnixGuy's Avatar
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Ungadunga911 View Post
    Ya, everything iv been tought i can learn for free online 100 percent. As for the IT training, a home kit and a subscription to cbt nuggets its better.


    I'm not trying to pick on you, because I too felt that my Computer Engineering degree wasn't as useful as I hoped it to be, but learning online has its place. For example, we can't learn brain surgery online, even things like electrical engineering can't be learnt online. Now if you go and do a degree in Medicine and then train as a surgeon in hindsight it might feel that it could've been learnt more efficiently and potentially online, but how many people actually succeed at self-learning something, sticking with it, be confident enough to gain more experience? Not a lot. Your degree isn't a waste, if you want to switch to another field you can do a masters degree in that field where your undergrad will come in handy, and your knowledge in IT both academically and in the work force comes in handy.

    IT is the exception, as an regulated field, people can pick a programming language on the side and exceed at it, in this case they don't 'need' a degree, but the degree can be used as filter to resumes, some companies just don't interview people without a degree (and I think they're wrong in doing so), but as individuals, we can do everything within our controls to better our own situations. The world is unfair, but that's the way it is unfortunately
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    #15
    I think liberal arts classes are very underrated. As a technical hiring manager I'm constantly faced with the problem of engineers who cannot write a complete sentence or present a reasoned argument. I firmly believe that "well-rounded" candidates outperform those with a purely technical background. My job (technical marketing) does require a lot of writing and speaking, but almost any job requires at least a certain amount of these. I also think "well-rounded" people are more interesting teammates and I like to work with people who can talk about something other than routers (I'm a network engineer) or TV programs.

    That said, it's debatable whether universities are the best place to become "well-rounded". Nowadays they often present a myopic point-of-view and do not challenge their students to think critically at all. I've met some well-read and articulate people who have never gotten their university degree. In my opinion, employers should focus less on degree and more on whether a given candidate has the skills, hard and soft, required to do the job.
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  17. Senior Member LordQarlyn's Avatar
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    #16
    It can be endlessly debated whether or not if what one learns from college has value or can be learned out in the "real" world. Going to college certainly has broadened my horizons. So has living in foreign countries and reading the classics.

    However, even a cursory search of IT jobs on any major job board strongly suggests that employer find value in degrees.

    In the final analysis, a degree is just a tool to enhance one's marketability. Like certifications, they are not magic genies that grant employment wishes. Employers like to see them, but if a degree and certifications are all you have to bring to the table, neither will be much value for you.
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  18. Senior Member Node Man's Avatar
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    #17
    i'll try a new point of view - After seeing how much of the working world (including IT) is, i would argue that a bachelors degree in theatre/drama or acting would be the most valuable education.
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  19. Senior Member aderon's Avatar
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    #18
    To be honest, the biggest skills school has taught me is:

    1) How to read something and learn from it. Surprisingly a lot of people have trouble with this. I encounter a lot of "issues" at work that can be resolved easily if you've read and understood the manual/instructions, etc.
    2) How to express your point in writing very quickly. (This has mostly come from the Master's as there is an immense amount of writing involved). This helps me a lot when writing documentation, drafting plans, emails, dealing with tech support, etc.

    As far as the liberal arts and some of the STEM classes are concerned, I too hated Philosophy haha. I also, can't tell you anything about Chemistry, Calculus, Statistics, etc. However, I don't think it's a complete loss. I'm of the opinion that learning just to learn is good for you. Similar to someone who reads a bunch of books. Even though they probably couldn't recite to you every topic from every book, some of it sticks and creates a cumulative effect.
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  20. Senior Member LordQarlyn's Avatar
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    #19
    Perhaps the same value as a music degree would be for information security lol?

    Quote Originally Posted by Node Man View Post
    i'll try a new point of view - After seeing how much of the working world (including IT) is, i would argue that a bachelors degree in theatre/drama or acting would be the most valuable education.
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  21. Senior Member Node Man's Avatar
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    #20
    Quote Originally Posted by LordQarlyn View Post
    Perhaps the same value as a music degree would be for information security lol?

    I will argue all day, that programming some synthesizers or DAWs is tougher than any Cisco device.
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    #21
    IT is one of those few careers you can earn a great living without any type of college degree. In theory a college degree will open more doors for you and your income potential is higher over your life time, but the upfront cost is considerable. On average it takes 21 years to pay off a college loan for a Bachelor of Science degree, add that to the stress of starting a family and trying to buy a home, College loan debt can be a real burden to some.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
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  23. Senior Member LordQarlyn's Avatar
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    #22
    You missed the reference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Node Man View Post
    I will argue all day, that programming some synthesizers or DAWs is tougher than any Cisco device.
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  24. Senior Member Node Man's Avatar
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    #23
    Quote Originally Posted by LordQarlyn View Post
    You missed the reference.
    Not my first time
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  25. Senior Member LordQarlyn's Avatar
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    #24
    Nor mine lol. I was referring to the former CISO at Equifax when they had their big breach, she had degrees in music.

    In itself that's not a problem, but the breach exploited a well-known vulnerability that a fix has been available for some time, the CISO and her department should have had it patched.

    Quote Originally Posted by Node Man View Post
    Not my first time
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  26. Senior Member Node Man's Avatar
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    #25
    ok, now that was funny
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