I think the Liberal arts education is an incredible thing, and when its purpose is fulfilled can be impactful. Although, I do not think Liberal arts education reflects the Ancient Greek ideal of cultivating skills to be free in society in all instances, I do think as a rule of thumb college enables individuals to be free in society.

         I think our society tries to make getting a degree mandatory in order to be successful in most instances in life, if you want to be successful school is necessary rung to climb to get to your intended destination.  At first I thought about this question and agreed with Wes and disagreed with the blog question because of individuals like Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates but then I realized the reality of so few individuals who did not college and were successful only proves that college has become a necessary step in attempting to be free or successful in our society.

   Think about our society how many people do you know who are talented and gifted enough not to go to college? Anyone I know who is attempting to be successful is attending some form of college. Where as many people I know who are impoverished,  would benefit greatly from college not necessarily because they are dumb but because our society holds a degree in such high esteem.

 In conclusion, I think college education reflects Ancient Greek ideals in that we assume that college necessitates an opportunity to be successful in our country. I do not think it is the exact same as the Ancient Greek ideals because I assume back then school actually provided people with the skills that they could not have learned elsewhere. I think our culture has just adopted an ideal that getting a degree equals success.

4 responses »

  1. Lindsey F. says:

    It’s so true about society thinking that getting a degree equals success. I know a lot of people who have tried college and either failed out or gotten into a lot of touble. These people knew they didn’t want to go to college, but did it because they believed it was necessary. Many people, like the ones I know, should really consider trade schools. I do know a friend from middle school who tried college for a year and realized it wasn’t for her, so she went to beauty school and is now a salon stylist and loving life! I think there are a lot of people who could benefit from trade schools like beauty school or even handymen. Seriously, we call the same guy to do any type of work in our house, from fixing the bathrooms to building sheds. If people today actually sat down and evaluated the personal benefits of college, I bet enrollment would drastically change.

  2. Jordi says:

    Actually, the Greek schools, I am pretty sure, did NOT teach “useful arts” like farming, soldiery, sail-making, or bronze-working. The whole point of the elite being able to educate themselves or their offspring was exactly to seem different than the “masses.”

    At some level, that is part of the tension around learning for learning’s sake versus being useful at Bucknell or in higher ed these days. In general, the more practical, the less prestigious. A two-year degree from XYZ community college in HVAC systems: useful, low prestige. A Bucknell degree in Classics? “not useful,” but prestigious.

  3. Steph P. says:

    Getting certain degrees normally does grant you the success you deserve. I think it’s interesting to note the paradigm shift of education in our country. About 15 years ago, having your Bachelors was pretty much all you needed to get a decent job, having a Masters was exceptional, and having a PhD meant you were the best in your field. I feel like now, getting your Masters almost isn’t even enough to compete with people for a job. People nowadays don’t even question getting their Masters because you really can’t get a stable career without one. I have a lot of friends who are so burnt out from education in general because they jumped into a Masters program while holding down a job, all for the purpose of finding a stable career. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I’m just saying competition in education modern times as well as what is expected of us in the workforce has definitely changed

    • Jordi says:

      PhDs are still fairly rare in many fields…

      But you are right about Master’s degrees.

      I personally NEVER advise anyone to go straight from BA to Master’s programs. One needs to live outside of school some. Also, many Master’s programs are cash cows (especially MBAs) for schools. They may not actually teach much. Which tends to make students very cynical about learning. And that is a pretty shitty environment to be in.

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