Potential readers: If you know anything about the legal system, I’d like to pose a question to you during this article, as I’ll freely admit I’m fairly ignorant of how it works.
That Cracked article I linked in my first post was also linked to another two part article about hipsters and modern society. I’ll link it at the end of this. While it’s not the main focus of the two-part piece, it does have some interesting things to say about the role of post-secondary education in the modern world.
Now, this ties into something that’s dogged both me and a lot of my friends as we collectively flail about in our mid-twenties, trying to get a career going. Basically, a lot of us wonder whether or not to bite the bullet and return to school for something else, something more specific, something more marketable. Certainly, there’s the argument that a fresh graduate is more desirable and relevant than someone who’s been on the hunt for years on end, and now that we’re no longer wide-eyed idealists (more on that later), we can pick something that’s useful and employable, and once again become metaphorical fresh meat of the leaner, healthier variety.
But for every thought that runs that way, there’s a thought that runs the opposite direction. Does it matter if we go back to school? Are we better just networking and fostering contacts and content on our own? Will we wind up where we are now four years down the line, only significantly poorer? I’ve saved some cash up. Do I want to risk losing that pile on a gambit that may not refill it? The biggest issue here is the question of whether or not a post-secondary education will do what it’s supposed to.
Hold on, though.
Didn’t we go to school to learn the relevant skills? Who was it that let us go to these schools, and what did they promise us? I feel like we were promised the ability to take on the world, and yet so many of us didn’t get that, or were inadequately prepared for The Real World.
So, here’s my hypothetical. What if an enterprising student, fed up with the way things were going, were to launch a lawsuit? Imagine a scenario where that student sues their college or university, demanding at the very least their tuition back, on the grounds that their school did not hold up their end of the bargain. The student feels like they were guaranteed marketable skills, and yet they apparently don’t have any, and weren’t adequately prepared. Basically, it’s a lawsuit over a perceived breach of contract. My question to anyone in the legal area would be if there’s any merit to this, and how it would go down if someone attempted it in real life.
Now, I’ve voiced this scenario to a friend before, and an interesting discussion was generated, specifically about how it raises the issue of what, exactly, college and university are about: Job skills, or “higher education?”
Well, what is higher education, exactly? And why do we want it? And if it doesn’t pay the bills, what use is it? It’s easy to be idealistic when you’re young, and shrug that last statement off as soulless and cynical. The thing is, when you’re young, you tend to form an unspoken assumption that things will just work out on their own, career-wise and money-wise. After all, your educational life has been automated until this point, why won’t your post-educational life feel similar?
When we’re young, we’re naive enough to assume it’s okay to have higher education instead of job skills, or hold the misconception that they equate the same thing, or that they’re not important. This seems to have been a recurring theme in a lot of the media around me in my formative years, and I worry about the inadvertent damage created by it. However, I’ll save that for another entry, as that’s another, much more cynical cultural tangent I could go on related to this, and I’m sure you’re tired of the morbid nature of a lot of these posts.
Anyways, my point, again, is whether or not this could be done, and if it would have a legal leg to stand on. Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to attempt it myself. Certainly, posting about it on here would be about the dumbest move possible. For me, it’s just an amusing hypothetical.
Epilogue: While I’m here, why not return your degree and demand the money back, the way someone would return a purchase to almost any retail outlet? That’d perhaps be a far more amusing scenario, but one less likely to work in the real world. Besides, I’d like to think that even the most cynical of us wouldn’t dare part with their degree or diploma. After all, some credit is better than none.
Anyway, here’s that other article I talked about, part one of a series. It’s another interesting read.