University: Not Worth It? Watch

Darkademic
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#21
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#21
(Original post by wanderlust.xx)
You simply can't find the skill anywhere else - unless, of course, you go straight into some sort of fast track route into a finance company where they teach you it all, but again, you need to show evidence that you can learn and apply logic like a mathematician and you're comfortable with working with high-end numeracy.
I'm tempted to agree. In general, you will learn a substantial amount from university if you do particularly technical or academic courses (e.g. sciences, mathematics, engineering); courses based purely on fact.

But then again, I've become rather well-versed in genetics and evolutionary biology just from reading books and journals in my spare time.

Maybe it's actually more dependent upon how you learn information best. Some people simply learn better from reading and researching, whereas some learn better when lectured to by a professor or discussing things with tutors.
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wanderlust.xx
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#22
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(Original post by Darkademic)
I'm tempted to agree. In general, you will learn a substantial amount from university if you do particularly technical or academic courses (e.g. sciences, mathematics, engineering); courses based purely on fact.

But then again, I've become rather well-versed in genetics and evolutionary biology just from reading books and journals in my spare time.

Maybe it's actually more dependent upon how you learn information best. Some people simply learn better from reading and researching, whereas some learn better when lectured to by a professor or discussing things with tutors.
Consider, for a moment, if you had gone to a good university to study a course on genetics and evolutionary biology from professors that had written the books you studied from.

You'd learn a heck of a lot more, regardless of your ability to absorb knowledge from books, wouldn't you?
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Darkademic
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#23
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#23
(Original post by wanderlust.xx)
Consider, for a moment, if you had gone to a good university to study a course on genetics and evolutionary biology from professors that had written the books you studied from.

You'd learn a heck of a lot more, regardless of your ability to absorb knowledge from books, wouldn't you?
I don't know, it's possible, but I've actually corresponded with leading geneticists and evolutionary biologists via email as part of my research (I'm in the process of writing a book on the subject). I literally read their books, Googled their names, found their university email address, and started asking questions. They were more than happy to discuss things, and even offered to read some of my drafts.

I personally don't get much out of lectures, they tend to be too short to examine the material in great depth, and be littered with superfluous material that can be condensed into bullet points.

That's just me though.

Like I said in my original post, I get the feeling that the education system is becoming obsolete, and needs to become a lot more .. organic and less structured. The use of the Internet for learning would be one route to go down; not just harvesting Wikipedia, but using forums like these with authoritative posters (i.e. experts), or streaming lectures/seminars. Some universities already do these things, but they're not given the focus I think they deserve.

If universities catered to different styles of learning, and made better use of the technologies available today, they'd probably be a lot more worthwhile. I mean, there's little difference between classrooms today, and classrooms 200 years ago, other than the use of a whiteboard (or projector) instead of a blackboard.
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wanderlust.xx
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#24
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#24
(Original post by Darkademic)
If universities catered to different styles of learning, and made better use of the technologies available today, they'd probably be a lot more worthwhile. I mean, there's little difference between classrooms today, and classrooms 200 years ago, other than the use of a whiteboard (or projector) instead of a blackboard.
My lecturers still use blackboards, bless them. :rolleyes:

Yeah I agree with you - generally if you're clever enough to do it on your own, then you don't need someone droning on about the subject at you, since you know it already. The majority probably won't fall into that category though, hence why university will probably always be necessary.
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Killer Bean
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Mmm, this seems like an interesting discussion. I first misread your username as 'Darkacademic' and thought, "how ironic"! I'm surprised you haven't been negged to death considering the forum on which you're posting this, lol: I admire how you've argued such a controversial view so well. I'm going to have to admit that I haven't bothered to read much farther beyond the OP, though.

I completely agree with your opinion of the lack of worth of A-levels, at least insofar as they're meant to measure aptitude and knowledge for certain subjects; without sounding tooooo too bitter, I know plenty of people with near-perfect academic records who've just shown that they can't engage in actual discourse for ****, and demonstrate quite often a lack of ability to think critically, or to form their own ideas/arguments. As for how I think A-levels have affected my own thinking, I could go on and on and on and on and ON. To avoid going on the longest tangent ever, which I'll spare everyone - including myself - for now. Throughout A-levels (really didn't give a **** about anything during my GCSE's :p:), I've looked forward to university vehemently, mainly because it would be the first time I could actually get good grades as the product of demonstrating original thought, among so many other things.

I'm probably going to be off to university next year, to study Maths & Philosophy at Warwick or Manchester, depending on my grades. Luckily for myself, I'll be just about dodging the 9K a year fees. Now, the think that immediately excited me the most in general, is The Student Experience - I (perhaps erroneously!) see university as an opportunity to really get myself out there, join some societies, form a band, etc. etc. etc. That's something which would be a whole lot harder if I didn't go to university, and see the prospect of an experience like this as almost priceless. So on a personal level (probably the only aspect I could make an informed contribution on, if at all), for most, university is a complete win.

As for the academic side of things, the things that I want to learn about would probably not be learned in a work experience environment. I'm interested in maths in all its purest forms, and how it lends itself to philosophy; and vice versa. I couldn't imagine learning about metaphysics or epistemology in too many jobs. Psychology, music and literary theory are a few more examples of things I like which could probably only be taught in an environment like a university. Having said that, I'm also interested in loads of things that would probably be learned best through a more practice experience, things like economics and politics. I understand that you could make the argument that I would do best to get some kind of practical work experience kind of course, while just reading about things I love in my own time (would you agree with that?), and that's not an argument I'm informed enough to back up particularly well.

I've a few more things that could be said, but I think I'll just like it like this for now. I can see a huge wall of text forming, in which I've barely said anything worthy of note, and I'm afraid that because I know **** all about such matters, I'd just be wasting everybody's time with my poorly informed drivel!
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n65uk
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#26
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My view:

Doctors, Lawyers/Solicitors or Some crazy kind of NASA scientist need Uni.

Everyone else does not, and have been fed this story by schools and colleges that Uni = Great job

In fact, for majority it is: Uni = JSA.

I do not think Uni is all bad, just some people pick idiotic degrees, and then wonder why they can't even get a Tesco checkout job.

The point that most people fail on is: REAL experience.
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Darkademic
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#27
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#27
(Original post by Killer Bean)
Mmm, this seems like an interesting discussion. I first misread your username as 'Darkacademic' and thought, "how ironic"! I'm surprised you haven't been negged to death considering the forum on which you're posting this, lol: I admire how you've argued such a controversial view so well. I'm going to have to admit that I haven't bothered to read much farther beyond the OP, though.
I'm glad you find the topic interesting, and yeah I would've expected more of a backlash considering I'm undermining the very basis of this forum's existence.

My name is actually supposed to be a combination of 'dark' and 'academic' (and also 'epidemic'), but I mean academic in the more general sense; as in pertaining to intellectual pursuits, rather than specifically relating to being in some kind of educational institution.

(Original post by Killer Bean)
I completely agree with your opinion of the lack of worth of A-levels, at least insofar as they're meant to measure aptitude and knowledge for certain subjects; without sounding tooooo too bitter, I know plenty of people with near-perfect academic records who've just shown that they can't engage in actual discourse for ****, and demonstrate quite often a lack of ability to think critically, or to form their own ideas/arguments. As for how I think A-levels have affected my own thinking, I could go on and on and on and on and ON. To avoid going on the longest tangent ever, which I'll spare everyone - including myself - for now. Throughout A-levels (really didn't give a **** about anything during my GCSE's :p:), I've looked forward to university vehemently, mainly because it would be the first time I could actually get good grades as the product of demonstrating original thought, among so many other things.
Indeed, I know a lot of people who got very good grades, but actually talking to them you wouldn't expect it all.

(Original post by Killer Bean)
I'm probably going to be off to university next year, to study Maths & Philosophy at Warwick or Manchester, depending on my grades. Luckily for myself, I'll be just about dodging the 9K a year fees. Now, the think that immediately excited me the most in general, is The Student Experience - I (perhaps erroneously!) see university as an opportunity to really get myself out there, join some societies, form a band, etc. etc. etc. That's something which would be a whole lot harder if I didn't go to university, and see the prospect of an experience like this as almost priceless. So on a personal level (probably the only aspect I could make an informed contribution on, if at all), for most, university is a complete win.
As long as you make friends with the right people, you'll probably have a great time. I was lucky also; when I went to uni I just missed the increase from 1k to 3k fees.

(Original post by Killer Bean)
As for the academic side of things, the things that I want to learn about would probably not be learned in a work experience environment. I'm interested in maths in all its purest forms, and how it lends itself to philosophy; and vice versa. I couldn't imagine learning about metaphysics or epistemology in too many jobs. Psychology, music and literary theory are a few more examples of things I like which could probably only be taught in an environment like a university. Having said that, I'm also interested in loads of things that would probably be learned best through a more practice experience, things like economics and politics. I understand that you could make the argument that I would do best to get some kind of practical work experience kind of course, while just reading about things I love in my own time (would you agree with that?), and that's not an argument I'm informed enough to back up particularly well.
Well, as I've been discussing with other posters in this thread, it really depends on how you best learn. I have a ton of philosophy/politics/sociology/anthropology/genetics/history/economics books, and have been debating all these subjects for the better part of a decade - but I never studied them at university, yet I consider myself very knowledgeable about all of them. This obviously isn't the norm though.
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Darkademic
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#28
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#28
(Original post by n65uk)
My view:

Doctors, Lawyers/Solicitors or Some crazy kind of NASA scientist need Uni.

Everyone else does not, and have been fed this story by schools and colleges that Uni = Great job

In fact, for majority it is: Uni = JSA.

I do not think Uni is all bad, just some people pick idiotic degrees, and then wonder why they can't even get a Tesco checkout job.

The point that most people fail on is: REAL experience.
You certainly need to go to university if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, simply for legal reasons - you need certain recognised qualifications in order to be able to practice these things.

Do you think the subjects are unlearnable outside of a university though?
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bananabrain
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#29
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I agree that schools and colleges, if you are doing a levels or the IB, seem to feed that university is the best way to go and we weren't given any information on careers. I think a lot of people go to university just because they don't know what they want to do, and some people also use it because they want to avoid working for as long as possible.
Personall, I have no idea what I want to do after university (something which my mother badgers me about and asks me why I'm going if I don't know) but for me, the experience of a new city, meeting new people, gaining the independence and the academic side is what appeals to me. If at the end of it, I end up in a career in which my degree is pointless, then perhaps I may have a different opinion on the matter but I'll always know that at the time of entering uni, I believed I was doing the right thing for myself.
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#30
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(Original post by Darkademic)
Do you think the subjects are unlearnable outside of a university though?
Medical schools require a whole host of specialist facilities and they are definitely necessary as higher educational institutions, and it is practical for medical schools to be attached to unis. I suppose in theory you could argue for medical schools to be separate institutions but then they'd have to think about a whole host of things that currently are managed by the uni such as accommodation and welfare, other facilities, research funding, etc. It would be entirely illogical.
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Meron
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#31
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Fact: It depends on the degree and the career paths you want to take.

Unfortunately some degrees now a days are unnecessary I don't want to sound patronising I love film/documentary making projects but it would be stupid for me to do a degree in that. I found out You can learn much more by having work-experience that if you done a degree in it after you graduate you are expected to do work-experiences to compete. But you are wondering whether people can learn the academic subjects such sciences without going to University I doubt it. Also yes most people end up doing a job that they did not earn a degree in. Does that mean the degree was pointless? I don't think so. Most of the times getting higher qualification is helpful because it gives you the skill or ability to retrain faster than those who don't.

University is not for everyone. I definitely know people who are going to University because that is what society expect of them. There are other routes but for some careers it is the only route. For me I will be sad if I am not in education its seems that is the only thing I want to do is to keep learning.
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#32
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(Original post by n65uk)
Doctors, Lawyers/Solicitors or Some crazy kind of NASA scientist need Uni.
So you think non-NASA scientists/other researchers don't need to know university-level science/humanities? :lolwut:
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Darkademic
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#33
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#33
(Original post by nexttime)
So you think non-NASA scientists/other researchers don't need to know university-level science/humanities? :lolwut:
Can you not learn university-level science/humanities without attending university?
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tiger_socks
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#34
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The hardest thing about today's climate is that you cant just walk into a basic office junior job anymore, without having some qualification/experience in that area. Things never used to be that hard .. Maybe the massive cuts in university funding will do us all some good, if less people have a degree then our degree's will be worth more in 5-10 years
Lauren,
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#35
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(Original post by Darkademic)
Can you not learn university-level science/humanities without attending university?
Almost certainly no. You can read papers (if you can afford to - the journals you'd need are extremely expensive) but that won't get you the same skills as being taught the difficult concepts and critical approach needed to be a researcher. In addition, some equipment you need is only owned by universities.

You'd certainly need degree-level education. Perhaps one could try to do this without going to uni, but very very few people would actually achieve that without the guidance and resources universities offer.

Science would be nowhere near the same level if we didn't have high-level teaching institutions. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous.
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Darkademic
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#36
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(Original post by nexttime)
Almost certainly no. You can read papers (if you can afford to - the journals you'd need are extremely expensive) but that won't get you the same skills as being taught the difficult concepts and critical approach needed to be a researcher. In addition, some equipment you need is only owned by universities.

You'd certainly need degree-level education. Perhaps one could try to do this without going to uni, but very very few people would actually achieve that without the guidance and resources universities offer.

Science would be nowhere near the same level if we didn't have high-level teaching institutions. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous.
I can understand the equipment argument (but then, you're already paying thousands of pounds to attend the university; less money would presumably be spent on hiring those resources separately), but I don't believe there is any knowledge that you need to be taught, and can't just read in a book or a journal (or even, dare I say, on the Internet). It's the same information, you're just receiving it via a different medium.

There are perhaps advantages of being taught (the ability to ask questions and get clarification), but there are also advantages of reading and researching yourself (the information being generally more premeditated in its organisation and more compressed, and the ability to absorb the information at your own pace).
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#37
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(Original post by Darkademic)
I can understand the equipment argument (but then, you're already paying thousands of pounds to attend the university; less money would presumably be spent on hiring those resources separately)
This is hugely oversimplistic. Lots of equipment is very dangerous (NMR, volatile chemicals, toxic chemicals) and needs to be supervised, lots is highly regulated (explosives, animals, needles etc) and plenty of equipment is completely immovable. These things NEED to be taught in large classes - you categorically would not be able to train yourself in this.

(Original post by Darkademic)
but I don't believe there is any knowledge that you need to be taught, and can't just read in a book or a journal (or even, dare I say, on the Internet). It's the same information, you're just receiving it via a different medium.
Two points: Firstly, any knowledge may be available (as i say, if you can afford it), but getting the correct knowledge is extremely difficult. To expect scientists to give themselves a good overall grounding in a science with no help on what to look into at all would be a disaster. Secondly, being a scientist is only a small amount about having knowledge. As you said yourself, you can just look stuff up on the internet. It is far more about having a core understanding of difficult principles and being able to apply that to different scenarios (where teaching is highly useful). Knowing what evidence is good evidence is absolutely vital, something that is not taught widely outside of classroom teaching.

(Original post by Darkademic)
There are perhaps advantages of being taught (the ability to ask questions and get clarification),
Don't underestimate the value of this! Without it people would simpy have huge holes in their understanding.

(Original post by Darkademic)
but there are also advantages of reading and researching yourself (the information being generally more premeditated in its organisation and more compressed,
Sorry? The complete opposite is true - lecturers bring evidence from the hugely wordy primary journals and put it into a format where it is more concise and, more importantly, more relevant to what you should be learning.

You also greatly underestimate the value of work-pressure at university. I know for a fact that if i was just given three years to learn some science off my own accord i would do very little, and what i did do would probably be of little value with no guidance at all.

To summarize, saying that a scientist can just go on the internet and be as good as a degree-level chemist in terms of employability for a research group is really quite absurd. They will have no idea what is important to learn (almost certainly not getting a good grasp of critical analysis of evidence), have poor access to key equipment training, have nowhere to go if their understanding is poor, and will probably have been nowhere near as driven outside of an academic and deadline-based environment.

(Original post by Darkademic)
(or even, dare I say, on the Internet).
Side point: if i (as a medic) worked from textbooks i would be years behind the current developments. Internet >>>>> books in terms what researchers would need. (unless it was historical research, obv )
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py0alb
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#38
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It's very hard to tell, because you simply don't know what the person who went to university would have done if he hadn't and vice versa.
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Moooooooose
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#39
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I've read most (but not all) of the points on here. It's an interesting point you raise OP, and one I've been debating to myself a lot recently. I've applied for a very vocational degree (photography) for entry in 2011. I'm seriously re-thinking whether I should go, especially because a career in Photography does not need a degree. In fact most the photographers I've worked with don't have degrees in the subject.

I'm not sure if spending 3 years, wasting all that money is worth it when I could get out in the field and set up my own business. But I agree that not many other choices are presented to students other than university. I'd love to set up my own business but am clueless as to how to go about it, as the art course I'm doing atm is 100% focused on getting its students into uni. However I don't want to miss out on the experience of uni, as most of my friends are there now and I don't think I'd feel satisfied if I didn't go, despite the financial burden.
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Darkademic
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#40
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(Original post by Moooooooose)
I've read most (but not all) of the points on here. It's an interesting point you raise OP, and one I've been debating to myself a lot recently. I've applied for a very vocational degree (photography) for entry in 2011. I'm seriously re-thinking whether I should go, especially because a career in Photography does not need a degree. In fact most the photographers I've worked with don't have degrees in the subject.

I'm not sure if spending 3 years, wasting all that money is worth it when I could get out in the field and set up my own business. But I agree that not many other choices are presented to students other than university. I'd love to set up my own business but am clueless as to how to go about it, as the art course I'm doing atm is 100% focused on getting its students into uni. However I don't want to miss out on the experience of uni, as most of my friends are there now and I don't think I'd feel satisfied if I didn't go, despite the financial burden.
I have a friend who runs a photography business (we made his website), and we've made websites for a couple of other photographers as well.

My friend said he's glad he went to uni, but he's never really communicated that he learned a massive amount from it; in terms of the technical or artistic skills involved. He also says that photography is very much about making contacts and building up a portfolio. That's kind of the impression we've got from the other photographers we've dealt with.

Although I'd personally say it's probably not worth it, I wouldn't dismiss going to university altogether even for photography; there might be some really good courses out there. It also depends on how skilled/knowledgeable you are already and if you think you really need the academic oversight or the learning environment that a university provides.

As for setting up a business, it's actually really easy if you do it as a sole trader. You can also get a lot of support from Business Link if you need advice/help, including free sessions and seminars with various advisors.
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