How Colleges and Universities Are Dumbing Down Our Children: A Tale in the Ridiculous
Master's in the Fab Four
"We've talked about this before, son. We think it best that you get a higher education degree. Your chances of getting a solid career are much higher if you do," said Hank Farley to his son Dustin.
"Your father's right," said Alicia, Dustin's mother. "Your dad and I both have degrees and now prosper from honorable careers."
Hank has a triple figure salary as an aerospace engineer. Alicia is a naturopath with a successful practice.
Dustin looked from one parent to the other. "Well, I've actually been thinking it over and I have sent for some information from various colleges and universities. I didn't tell you because I wanted to do this without pressure or influence from you. Not that you're pushy or anything, but I just want to be a man and take the initiative."
Hank and Alicia looked at each other with pride. Their boy was going to make something of himself. "This is good news, Dustin," said Hank. "What would you like to major in?"
"Well Dad, I'm not sure just yet. I've been pondering it and haven't made a sure decision but...hold on." Dustin left the room and came back with a stack of college and university information packets. He sat between his mom and dad and opened one. "Get a load of this, you guys," he said, pointing to one. Hank and Alicia's mouths dropped open and they looked at each other stunned and baffled.
"Beatles, Popular Music, and Society? Liverpool Hope University?" Hank read.
"Ya. Cool, huh." Dustin's eyes were full of wonder.
Alicia read the information. "This degree program lets students examine the significance of the music of the Beatles in the construction of identities, audiences, ethnicities, industries and locations, and by doing so it will suggest ways to understand popular music as a social practise, focusing attention on issues such as the role of music in the construction of regional identities, concepts of authenticity, aesthetics, meaning, value, performance, and the use of popular music as a discursive evocation of place. Furthermore, in a consideration of popular music as a text, popular music semiotics will also be employed." Oh, Hank." Alicia began to rub her hands together anxiously.
"Son, you can't be serious," said Hank. "That's bogus, it has to be. And do you have any inkling of what "discursive evocations" and "music semiotics" mean? Because I don't. And I'm an aerospace engineer."
"No. But this a real degree program and I don't understand why you're upset; you always liked the Beatles and it's foreign studies, Dad. That would be impressive on a resume. And it would be so cool to go to the UK, Liverpool no less, home of the most famous rock group in the history of the world. You guys could come to visit and maybe we can get our pictures taken walking through the crosswalk as the Beatles did on their Abbey Road album cover."
Hank closed his eyes and shook his head in disbelief. "Gee Dustin, I can think of several reasons to be upset. First, how in the world can you make a career with a degree in John, Paul, George, and Ringo? Secondly, unbelievably, this is a master's program. That means you have to get a bachelor degree first. I'd love to know what bachelor degrees qualify. Thirdly, we aren't about to spend thousands of dollars for you to be a Beatlemania Expert. And lastly, the photo on the Abbey Road album was taken in London not Liverpool, not that that matters one iota."
"Dad, think. I can make a career by making a Beatles memorabilia museum."
"Wow, I'm sure that's never been done."
"Okay, I could...could..."
"The answer is no, Dustin, with a capital N."
Dustin deflated for a moment then perked up. "Don't worry Dad, I have a lot of other options."
Cowabunga Science and Technology
Dustin pulled out another packet - from Cornwall College. He shuffled through the pages and found what he was looking for, pointed, slapped the page and said "There! What do you think Mom and Dad?"
Alicia thought sure this would be something normal and good by the confidence of her son. She leaned over for a look. "Surf Science and Technology? Goodnight, Dustin."
Hank snatched the packet out of Dustin's hands. "Let me see that. Oh, priceless. Core courses - Culture of Surf and Sport, Physical and Geographical Influences of Surfing, Surfing Practice. Now we're getting down to the nitty-gritty. "This module underpins how surf recreation is practised and taught and offers a framework for understanding the acquisition of basic skills in surfing. It incorporates practical sessions in which safe management of surfing activity is covered, followed by outline coverage of the Surfing GB's Level 1 Surf Instructor syllabus. It also explains body movement and the physical principles that underpin the sport of surfing."
"Ya! Awesome. I mean, sounds pretty scientific Dad."
"Yes, I see that son. Let's see here, what else do we have?" Hank read down the list of courses needed to get a degree in surfing. "Personal and Employability Skills Development. Oh, and look at this - Sociological and Psychological Perspectives of Surfing. Very impressive, son."
Dustin was oblivious to his father's sarcasm. He was nodding his head as his dad read, believing his father was genuinely impressed.
"Dustin, do you know where Cornwall College is?"
"Cornwall College? I thought it was Cornell. So where is Cornwall College?"
"It's in the UK. Isn't American college good enough for you? Never mind, it doesn't matter. Tell me, Dustin, if you got a degree in Cowabunga, what kind of career would you be looking at?"
Dustin thought about it very seriously. Finally, his head popped up. "I can run a surf shop, become a professional surfer, or I can teach surfing."
"Oh, I see," Hank said, nodding his head. "Tell me, where are you going to get the money to start a surf shop? And how many times have you gone surfing in your lifetime?"
"Dad, don't you get it? I'll learn how to surf in college, come home and join the semi-pro circuit and if I do well, I will go pro. Or I can teach surfing. No biggie. And I can work in a surf shop to earn the money to start my own surf shop."
"You do realize you'll have to relocate. We live in the Midwest."
"Oh, right. Well, Hawaii is the best place to start a career in surfing science and technology."
"Dustin, the answer is no. We're not forking out big bucks for you to get a degree in surfing. And please, let's focus on colleges in the US."
"Dustin," said Alicia, "We want you to get a real education. Not cool things that have no value or promise. Do you understand what I'm saying, honey?"
" You mean like science, history, English, mathematics?"
"That's a good start, darling."
"I took all that in elementary, middle and high school. I've learned all that stuff and I aced them with A's and B's. I'm totally bored with those Mom. Isn't college about expanding your horizons, learning new things, and pursuing greater challenges?"
"Ahem," said Hank. "More like C's and the occasional B, but who's counting. Let's move on. What else do you have? Or dare I ask?"
Into the Land of Egypt
"Okay, here's one. Bachelor of Arts in Sexuality Studies."
"NO!" Hank and Alicia said in unison.
"It's in America."
"Okay, well, I guess I can handle that subject in everyday life." Dustin winked at his Dad.
"Totally inappropriate thing to say or try to achieve," said Hank, taking the stack of literature from Dustin. "Ï'll take over." He found the degree programs Dustin had circled. "Good grief. Egyptology? Seriously?"
"Now wait a minute, Dad, that's a very educational major. It looks to be fascinating."
"I actually agree with you, son. From what I see here it's very educational. In and of itself there's nothing wrong with the subject. But what kind of career can you make from Egyptology?"
"I could be an archeologist in Egypt or a professor teaching about Egyptian civilization."
"Dustin, that is an admirable profession and I'm sure it would be educational, fascinating, and full of expanding horizons. But I don't think it's a practical major for you. Becoming an archeologist in Egypt or becoming a professor in it is a very difficult field to get into and what if you take it and find it boring and not your cup of tea. We think you need to find a major in an area of study you have skills for. I got my degree in engineering because of my strengths in the skills needed for that area of study. I went into a major that I was also passionate and fascinated about. I went into a career that was tailor-made for me. Now think, son. What skills and interests do you have, proven through the years of your education thus far?"
"Dad, I want to take Egyptology. I know I'd do well at it. I don't mind getting dirty, digging, and finding fascinating artifacts from ancient civilizations. And in school, I loved learning about other civilizations. I know I'd love teaching it."
Hank let his head drop and blew out a long sigh. "Why don't we take a break. Let's get the barbecue going and we'll have some burgers and watermelon. Then we can come back to this."
Hank, Alicia, and Dustin sat at their patio table enjoying burgers, potato salad, and watermelon. They continued to go through the college information. Dustin had circled degrees in Bagpiping, Fermentation Sciences, Popular Culture, and Race Track Industry. Hank laid the mountain of information packets down on the table, leaned back in his chair, and folded his arms.
"Dustin, your interests are all over the place. Most of them are of no use to your future whatsoever. Most of them are things you've not had any inclination towards, a few we're master's or doctorate degree programs, and I could go on and on. College is serious business. It's not about fun and cool so let's rethink this. I've come up with a plan B: Go to a community college and get your basic prerequisites done and get your AA degree. You can take a few electives and perhaps in that time you'll have some idea of a realistic, useful major so you can transfer to a four-year college or university. You may discover your true strengths which would direct you to majors in which those skills are necessary."
Dustin's face was so forlorn you'd think he was forced to get a degree in toilet bowl science. "All right. But I get to choose my own electives."
"Within reason," Hank said.
Alicia met Hanks' eyes and mouthed, "Where did we go wrong?"
Hank shrugged woefully.
Back to Egypt
Hank put his forehead on the desk shaking it. "Unbelievable. Alicia, come here, I want you to see something."
"Honey I'm in the middle of..."
"No, Alicia. Drop what you're doing. You need to see this."
Alicia stood behind Hank and looked at the computer screen to see a list her husband had written out. "What is this?" she asked.
"Look at the list carefully, Alicia. I've been doing research on what kind of classes colleges are now offering."
Alicia studied the list.
- On Being Bored - Brown University
- Wasting Time on the Internet - University of Pennsylvania
- The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender, and Media - Skidmore College
Alicia paused in her reading. "Hold on, I need a glass of wine." Hank heard her open a new bottle. She returned with two tumblers full of Chardonnay, handing one to Hank. "Here," she said, "We can't go on without this." She took a long drink and resumed reading.
- The Simpsons and Philosophy - University of California Berkley
- Religions of Star Trek - Muhlenberg College
- Street Fighting Mathematics - MIT
- How to Watch Television - Montclair State College
- Politicizing Beyonce - Rutgers University
Alicia and Hank took another drink of wine.
- Getting Dressed - Princeton University
"Princeton? You've got to be kidding," Alicia said.
"Honey, your swaying. Maybe you've had too much wine."
"Is there a class for that too? And no, I've only had two sips."
- South Park Contemporary Social Issues - McDaniel College
"Hank, get me a chair. My legs are wobbling."
Hank obeyed his crumbling wife. She fell onto the chair heavily. Hank took her wine away mid-sip. "This won't help you, honey. You don't have to read anymore. It's not worth a hangover."
"No. No, I want to see it all. I've got to pass this on to my friends who have college-age children."
- SelfieClass - UCLA
"Hank, we've got to take away Dustin's phone. Hold on, let me read the class description. It ought to be good."
"Looks like it's no longer offered," Hank said with a sigh of relief.
- The Art of Walking - Centre College in Danville, Kentucky
Alicia rolled her eyes. "Dustin learned to walk when he was fourteen months old. This must be a class for toddlers."
"I wish it was, honey."
- Wordplay: A Wry Plod from Babel to Scrabble - Princeton University
- God, Sex, Chocolate: Desire and Spiritual Path - UC San Diego
- Arguing with Judge Judy - UC Berkley
"Hank, I''m beginning to think Egyptology is a very practical choice. At least you don't have to check your brains out at the college door."
"Maybe the military would be a better fit for Dustin."
"Hank, I think they should have BA or MA degree programs for how to shake some sense into extreme liberal lower education professors who think up this garbage."
"That's not extreme enough," Hank said. "How about 'The Science of Ousting Liberal College Professors By Dismantling the Tenure System: There's a Better Way. The class description would be 'In this course parents would learn the dire social and educational ramifications of allowing liberal college professors to continue not educating their children. They will learn the philosophy of the ludicrous tenure system in colleges and universities today. The core of this degree program is learning the science of dismantling tenure and the reeducation of liberal professors in sanitation engineering with the objective of sending them out into the real world to make a living by the sweat of their brow."
Alicia chuckled and gave Hank a high five. "You nailed it, babe. Here's one: 'Payback for Liberal College Professors by Making Them Take Their Own Classes and Live Them Out: Oh That's Right, They Already Are.'"
"The Coming Apocalypse of Higher Education Due to Implosion."
"Good one, Hank, Try this - 'The Social Comparisons of Beavis and Butthead to College Professors Who Think Up Ridiculous Classes for Students and Parents to Go Into Lifelong Debt For.'" They burst out laughing.
When they calmed down Hank said, "Okay. Now that we've had our say and some laughs, let's get serious and call Dustin in here."
My Parent's Are Off Their Rocker
Alicia found Dustin in his room playing a video game. "Hey, Dustin, Dad and I would like to talk with you."
"What have I done now?" he said.
"Nothing at all. We have some news we want to share with you about school."
"Oh that," said Dustin in his Eeyore voice.
"You'll be surprised, honey. Come on now."
Dustin sat down with his parents at the dining room table. "Okay, what's up? What kind of torture do you have planned for my college education?"
"No need to be sarcastic, Dustin," Hank said. "You may be happy to hear that Mom and I have been thinking things over and when you get your AA degree, we are very supportive of the idea of you majoring in Egyptology." Hank and Alicia smiled at each other, then at Dustin.
Dustin noticed the tumblers of wine on the coffee table. "Have you guys been drinking?" he asked.
"Actually, only a few sips. That's why they're still full," said Alicia.
"Okay, what's gotten into you guys? What's up with the sudden change of heart?"
"We think it's a sounder choice in light of all our research of what colleges are offering. Unless you've found something else that makes sense," his father said.
"Actually, I've been thinking of going into Physical Education. I'd like to be a high school gym teacher, or go into coaching soccer. You know how much I love soccer."
The house filled with the sound of chairs scraping on the floor and the whoops and hollers of Alicia and Hank. They high fived and did the happy dance. They pulled Dustin off his chair and dragged him into a dance circle. He pulled away.
"What's gotten into you two? This is like really creepy."
Hank grabbed his son's head and planted a big kiss on his forehead. "Son, we just love you so much. We're just expressing our love and support."
Dustin wiped the kiss off his forehead. "Yuck Dad. Pull yourselves together."
"Dustin," Alicia said, "in case you change your mind, we will still support you in Egyptology. Why don't we plan a trip to Egypt this summer?"
"No thank you," Dustin said, trying to back out of the room.
"No worries, son. Let's go to Hawaii for surfing lessons."
"Thanks, Dad, but I'm just going to get a job and earn some money so I can live on campus."
Dustin ran out of the room when he saw both parents racing toward him with glee. He made a decision to go to college as far away from his crazy parents as he could.
As I See It
The really sad thing about this satirical story is that these college degree programs and classes are real. Some have been discontinued or modified. But they are the real deal. Every year parents and students go into serious, long-term debt for college. Many students study biology, engineering, mathematics, psychology, sociology etc. and go on to graduate and start a decent career. It's no secret though, that typically colleges and universities and their professors are very liberal, and political correctness, which is bad enough in and of itself, is taken to the extreme. Sadder still is this is happening in other countries, as evidenced by Dustin's first two choices which were in the UK.
Notice their ploy of using complicated, heady language in their descriptions of programs and classes (as Hank very pointedly challenged Dustin with). This is a strategy to make garbage sound like gold. If you can make a course on Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, the Simpsons, the Beatles, or Fermentation sciences sound educational by a proliferation of mind twisting, meaningless big words, ignorant people will drink the kool-aid, by the T-shirt, and go into debt. If you watch the video the two men prove my point. Making classes and programs sound cool is a strategy to draw in kids who are normally indifferent to education or looking for something entertaining. But what we are seeing in colleges today is indoctrination. Please be aware it is not my intention to make blanket statements here. I think this it's more prevalent than not.
Liberalism to the extreme is woven through many of the classes and programs, especially in the sciences, humanities, and the arts. What is really upsetting is that college professors get paid triple digit salaries to feed our kids this bunk. Worse, the whole tenure system keeps them employed even when proven guilty of the most blatant misconduct. Tenure pretty much gives professors carte blanch to do anything and get paid obscene amounts of money to do it.
Hubpages writer, breakfast pop, writes a lot about the ills of higher education. Her recent article "Higher Education is Sinking," was dead on. She's much better at sizing it all up and breaking it down for her readers than I am. So I will leave you with this important quote an add to it my hearty amen!
I suggest that we try to keep up with developments on campus, whether or not we are footing the bill for a college education. Eventually these students who seem to be a part of a sick science experiment will enter the real world."— breakfastpop, Hubpages writer
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Lori Colbo