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Colleges are Diversifying? Not Exactly

Posted by  $  SarahMontalbano 2 years, 10 months ago to Education
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Mamaemma and some others have told me about the experiences of their sons, daughters, and themselves in colleges due to their libertarian/Objectivist/non-conformational views. I will probably get in some troubles because of my views. Does anyone have experiences, advice, or comments to share related to this?

One quick note: Since I am not a subscriber to the Wall Street Journal, I wasn't able to access the article they based this off of. It seems to be interesting; the title is "The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid" and the link is found in the article, for anyone who wants to read it.
SOURCE URL: https://www.scholarships.com/Blog/scholarships/colleges-are-diversifying-not-exactly/3941/


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    Posted by Zenphamy 2 years, 10 months ago
    Suggestion (You asked): Spend a year or two in the real world, away from home if possible, before you start college. Try out some work experience in the field you think you may want (ie. Receptionist at a law firm or Engineering firm or etc to gain some exposure to what's involved in the day to day activities)

    Then go into college understanding that the real purpose of a college education is for you to learn how to learn, not what your professors try to ram down your throat, and that what you get from your education is really up to you--not just what you're taught.
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    • Posted by rainman0720 2 years, 10 months ago
      "...is for you to learn how to learn...:. Exceptionally well said.

      I didn't graduate from college knowing everything; but I did graduate from college knowing how to figure anything out that I didn't know.
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 2 years, 10 months ago
        Exactly. I can't think of a career or work environment that colleges teach how to get the work done or what the work actually entails on a day by day basis.
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
      "Try out some work experience in the field you think you may want"
      I strongly agree with this. It gets you on your path and off the path that the high schools, colleges, and other people set for you. It would be a scary path looking forward, but years later you'd wonder why you were scared at all.

      While you're working as a test technician or whatever you could take two classes at a time, possibly partially paid for by the employer's tuition reimbursement program.

      If you can't go this far, maybe you'd instead select a school that has a good co-op program that puts working in your field in some way early on. The rubber meeting the road of getting the work done is more important than people's viewpoints.
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      • Posted by  $  Susanne 2 years, 10 months ago
        Absolutely... also you will quickly discover if what you think you want for a career is really what you DO want for a career. Nothing can wake you up to something you abhor, or realizing that the planned 4 year (or in some cases 8-11 year) degree will get you a net paycheck in the low to mid 20's, than actually working in the field.

        A number of my attorney friends, as well as those who wanted to become educators (to counter the current spate of statist nanny-programmers) are learning this firsthand.
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        • Posted by Zenphamy 2 years, 10 months ago
          I began college thinking I might become an attorney. Spent the next summer working with an attorney friend in his office doing scut work. Found out just how boring and mundane most of the work was and got introduced to court assigned representation of clients and learned who I might wind up having to represent. That was it. Quickly changed to engineering. Then went on to change careers (all utilizing engineering directly, design, project, field, management, business owner) three times.

          Amazingly (maybe not so much), still found myself involved with law years later on; contract and contract claims, administrative/regulatory law.
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    • Posted by  $  2 years, 10 months ago
      Great suggestion! My future career involves heavy research (I'm planning on molecular biology) so it would be useful to find some work in the field. However, many scholarships (such as the Alaska Performance Scholarship which may be cut) can be voided if I do not go directly into college. If financial concerns were of no issue I would do as you say, Zen, but they unfortunately are. In addition, although it would not be impossible to find work, most laboratories in the field I'm interested in require a Master's or PhD just to get in a door. Not saying that I couldn't apply for a receptionist job or other things, though. I plan on doing at least one intern ship over next summer, or working.
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  • Posted by  $  jbrenner 2 years, 10 months ago
    Where else would you expect to find the Robert Stadlers of the world besides at the State Science Institute? Most of them are at the universities that are beholden to their government funding agencies. If you want to find a university that is not statist, perhaps you should look for one that does not embody statist values. My university, for instance, gathers many of those who have choose NOT to be Stadlers.
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    • Posted by  $  2 years, 10 months ago
      You are most certainly NOT a Stadler and if you are representative of the whole then I would be delighted to apply to FIT.
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      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 2 years, 10 months ago
        I was en route to being a Stadler. There was a time when I postdoc'd at Argonne National Laboratory, a State Science Institute if there ever was one. While I wanted to be like I am now, it took quite a while to find a place where I could practice my craft without compromising my values.

        I am not representative of the whole of FIT, but there are relatively few signs for Hillary or Bernie here. Most people here would vote for one of us for president, rather than any of the politicians.

        Everyone here does agree with this famous Ayn Rand statement:

        "Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it-that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life-that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence."
        Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/author/12074-...
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  • Posted by  $  richrobinson 2 years, 10 months ago
    You seem to be strong in your beliefs. Keep that strength of conviction. I run a small retail business and I have realized that I have to pick my battles. Some people are a waste of my time. Always remember:

    “Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Leave them alone.”

    If that fails you can always borrow my toaster.
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
    Unfortunately, our current education system and even culture since the 1960's has been all about making the 4-yr college degree a necessity in life. I disagree with this notion, as it props up the self-importance and the notion that college professors are a necessity. There are many jobs (especially in tech where I'm at) where a university degree is virtually worthless - if offered at all. We will always need good electricians, mechanics, machinists, and many other manual labor positions which are much better served by an apprenticeship model, and I think we have gone too far away from this mentality.

    So having worked my way (full time job + full time school + wife + kids) through my entire undergraduate and graduate career, I will tell you that the first thing you need to figure out is what kind of work you enjoy. Next, figure out how much that is worth to you in terms of education and include in that evaluation the costs of obtaining the education and the lifetime earnings of that position. If you aren't paying for your education in <5 years, you are either in the wrong subject or attending the wrong school.

    Next, research the aid you can qualify for. This isn't mooching. Pell Grants are a reimbursement on your taxes and the businesses which offer scholarships, etc. get tax write-offs. Take advantage of everything you can find. Many large universities have endowment funds in billions of dollars and can afford to pay down their own hyper-inflated costs.

    Last, as the poet says "Get 'er done!". School is a means to an end. Treat it as such. Don't work yourself to death, but prioritize your education over the parties. (I do heartily endorse the semester-ending pizza-study party just before finals week, however!) And don't go spending your money on vacation trips to Europe or Baha and that nonsense while in school. Reward yourself when you walk that aisle with cap on head and braids on your shoulders.

    You'll probably have to take a philosophy class or some other taught by some self-important progressive. I did, refused to compromise on my end paper position and though I had an A to that point ended up with a B in the class. My principles were more important to me than assuaging the ego of a university professor who couldn't even bother to put up a logical argument and so resorted to simply grading me down. Realize that such are beneath you as a thinking adult. Move on.
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  • Posted by johnpe1 2 years, 10 months ago
    I went into engineering and nearly avoided this problem;;;
    however, carrying AS around campus was problem
    enough! . I was in machine design and remain
    convinced to this day that I lost a letter grade more
    than once because of it. . even in engineering in
    the '66-70 interval. . you may want to be cautious
    about your self-revelation on campus, Sarah. -- j

    p.s. of course, I was flaunting Rand -- one need not
    do that to engender friendships, but I wanted to try.
    .
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    • Posted by  $  2 years, 10 months ago
      Just today I was reading The Romantic Manifesto in class, and one of my acquaintances said to me, "Ew, Ayn Rand!" in a teasing voice. I've already learned to be cautious. The only thing that spared me was that it is one of her lesser-known and lesser-discussed works and he didn't have background knowledge to attack with.
      I've grown very cautious.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 10 months ago
    I can't be of much help. Things have changed greatly since I was in college. However, son #1 went to a tech school and had no problems in that area. Son #2 couldn't ever keep quiet when something was said that he found to be radically untrue, and was constantly arguing with everyone from professors, to instructors to students. He finally said, "The hell with this" and devoted himself full time to a part time business he had started and was soon making enough money to buy his first house.
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  • Posted by Joseph23006 2 years, 10 months ago
    College's purpose is not to graduate a person who has fully formed and unchangeable notions. Some disciplines deal in near absolutes like the sciences or mathematics, others deal in abstractions such as literature or philosophy which can continuously change in the light of new facts or ideas. The diversity of race, ethnic, gender, and cultural students is a good thing but not at the expense of diversity in ideas, thinking, or tolerance of opposing views. This last seems to be ovetaking campuses around the country. I didn't graduate with a set of preconceived notions but with the ability to think, to process different ideas; I'm surprised how much I learned in the nearly fifty years since graduation!
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  • Posted by Lucky 2 years, 10 months ago
    Consider your real reasons for entering college. It may simply be to obtain credentials, if so, is the price to pay in insincerity too high?
    (I love travel and meeting people. I care about the environment, concerned about carbon, and want to stop racism .. ) If you are here you know the passwords.

    Another approach is to avoid any subject in what are called the social sciences, instead go for ' ..the outliers .. engineering and similar professional schools'.
    Choice of school, as jbrenner says.

    Yes the article focuses on faculty, but if there is an interview to enter as a student, be prepared.
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  • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 2 years, 10 months ago
    I used an off campus degree completion program. No idea how it works today. NY Board of Regents External Degree Program. some decades ago. U. of Oklahoma helped a lot with off campus study programs. I learned to pick and choose schools and professors for night campus programs. One day I received a diploma and a bill for $500 for graduation fees. The rest was up to me. The Masters was a bit dicier as it involved verbally defending a thesis. But they were most cooperative. I suggested schools close to my whereabouts at the time and was lucky to get a panel of three - all former professors.No slack though. They fed me through the grindstone for four hours. Never used it for anything more than my own education and enjoyment. Couldn't afford to take the pay cut.
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    • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 2 years, 10 months ago
      however non traditional is not a bad way to go if iyou are a self starter and interested in education not getting ----see the Zappa quote. How did I make up for the lack of interchange of information? Sat in many classes where I wasn't registered. Called upon one time by seat number i delivered an ad hoc condemnation of Che Guevara finishing up with ...it helps to have been there. I hope the student who owned that seat number appreciated the grade.
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  • Posted by johnpe1 2 years, 10 months ago
    Sarah, in response to Zen's comment, one option is
    working while going to school. . I worked as a drafter
    while learning engineering and got a chance to interact
    with the engineers who were designing the machine
    (a railroad tie replacement machine, then) and it taught me
    to learn the subject first, and then work for a grade.
    I had those priorities set equal, before that. -- j
    .
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  • Posted by  $  Flootus5 2 years, 10 months ago
    I earned two degrees in geology, primarily back in the 70's. I recommend maintaining a sharp radar of situational awareness especially in regard to the professors. One consistent trend I saw was that, by far and away, the best professors were those that had spent significant time employed in industry.

    The best example I recall is the comparison of two different professors of Economic Geology I had. In my senior year I had a professor that had just retired from 40 years in the mining industry. He recommended a textbook on Ore Deposits. A new type each week. Invariably he would bring in his own specimens from world class mines featured in the book saying that when he was there the thinking was such and such as to the genesis of the deposit. Fascinating. I was hooked.

    So, in grad school I took another graduate level Economic Geology course. The guy was worthless. Had never been in industry, all academic and limited to a rare type of ore deposit completely unrepresentative of most of the world. He was substituting for the main professor that taught the course that had suddenly gone on sabbatical. I had chosen the original economic guy to be on my thesis committee and now I was also stuck with the substitute guy on my committee. I had many questions regarding ore specimens from my thesis area and made an appointment with him for consultation. I would hand him a specimen from my box and inquire about the alteration or the mineralogy. He would limp wristedly hold the rock and then drop it back into the box without answering. After several specimens the look on my face prompted him to say "I don't have much experience with hydrothermal deposits". That only constitutes about 90% of all economic ore deposits. Worthless.

    Long story short, he never gained tenure and was actually fired. So he starts a consulting business for the gold exploration business in Arizona. I ran into him in the halls of the USGS one day. Cordial. He asked me what I was up to. I told him I was staying reasonably busy doing consulting and contracting work for the gold exploration business. Not only that, but I co-owned a gold mine with visible gold in veins at the surface. I had a specimen in my jacket pocket and showed it to him. He looked at it quick and said "nice pyrite". Once again, the look on my face gave him pause. He looked again and said "that's gold isn't it?" Uh, yeah.

    I was not worried about competition in the business from him.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
    "Does anyone have experiences, advice, or comments to share related to this? "
    I really think it's a non-issue. The important thing is the truth. All of this stuff in the article about finding merit with leftwing or rightwing "positions" in education is nonsense. "Positions." The very language refers to politics, not science. It's as if the author watched talking heads argue and thought that's how the world really works. Figuring things out and getting things working take hard work. The stuff in the article IMHO is irrelevant to education and research.
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    • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 2 years, 10 months ago
      So are the classes that are drastically one sided and only teach or better yet propagandize the material for political purposes. It's well worth anyone's time to attend schools which offer objective and balanced viewpoints instead of only extremist views.
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      • Posted by  $  2 years, 10 months ago
        Exactly. Of course I know the truth; but don't you think 4 years with a biased faculty could change it? Even if it doesn't, it could hurt my future career and grades merely for disagreeing.
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        • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
          IMHO you have to trust your skeptical reasoning abilities and accept that people's various biases will sometimes work against you or in your favor. What you do, though, predominates over other people's biases / prejudices.

          If I'm right, the school having a good internship program could be 100 times more important than what people there think of your ideas things like cutting taxes.

          I'm approaching the question from an engineering standpoint. It's possible other subjects, like political science, may be a different world I don't understand. Also things may have changed since I went to school in the 90s. But I think, and certainly hope, that the issue from the article is a tempest in a teapot.
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          • Posted by  $  2 years, 10 months ago
            I think for my future it's important to have the best technical knowledge. I would prefer to have a college with both, but if I do have to choose my priorities go to technical knowledge.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
        I understand the world through "one-sided" models, not "balanced" viewpoints.
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        • Posted by  $  2 years, 10 months ago
          I think what MichaelAarethun means (correct me if I'm wrong) is that students should be exposed to a variety of viewpoints so that they can pick the one that they believe is true. In some cases they may not be right but it is ultimately up to them to see the truth. Rand said something to the effect of, We cannot force people to accept objectivism through religious teachings because that negates the principles involved. Each person must choose for him or herself.
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
            Maybe it would be helpful to find examples of things that need to be taught from various viewpoints.

            I think of the world as facts and models. Science by its nature encourages people to find new evidence that overturns existing facts and models.

            When I hear about "balanced viewpoints" I think of these thought processes:
            1. The evidence shows homeopathy has no effect.. For balance, though, let's hear from the few scientists who think it does have an effect.
            2. Science can never be value neutral. It's always colored by observers' cultural biases. That has led to evil things like science being used as justifying slavery. In modern times, funding biases researchers against homeopathy and for corporate-produced medicines and foods. Since science cannot be value-netural, the universe in inherently unknowable. Let's not even try to find fundamental truths and instead pick based on good values that will lead to desirable conclusions.
            3. I'm trying to understand some policy issue, so I'll listen to rant from Mike Malloy and then a rant from Rush Limbaugh and pick the truth after hearing both sides.

            Maybe you can think of some examples where exposure to different viewpoints really is helpful.
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