Sunday, December 12, 2010

Passion over Pressure

Don't worry young one, life only gets harder...
and harder....and harder...kind of like these rocks.
Or are they kidney stones?
Annotated Bibliography

Murray, Charles. "Are Too Many People Going to College? — The American, A Magazine of Ideas." Business, Economics, Culture, and More — The American, A Magazine of Ideas. The American Enterprise Association (AEA), 8 Sept. 2008. Web. 06 Nov. 2010. <

The author Charles Murray, the W.H. Brady scholar at The American Enterprise Institute, delves deep into the tangled mess of opinions regarding the usefulness of the B.A. degree in this 12-page article appearing in "The American", the journal of the aforementioned institute. This article is the result of his extensive research on this sensitive topic and is abbreviated from his book “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality”. He answers the worrying call of most all students who are in pursuit or thinking of pursuing a B.A. degree with concrete data spanning from academic performance percentiles to percentages of actual college graduates; he translates what these numbers are revealing about the B.A. system so prized in "class-driven America".

He evaluates the effectiveness of the B.A. as a measure of competence and although he agrees that certain professions (medicine, law, physicians, scientists, engineers) require a rigorous system, he argues that most other professions holding the vast majority of American employment do not have need to have the B.A. as the entrance ticket, as it is only referred to once in the interview (the fact you got it is enough) and never brought up in the office.

In addition, he values the intrinsic rewards of being a successful "electrician" without a B.A. over being a mediocre personnel with a B.A. He is not shy to suggest the possibility and reality that there is a life and successful world outside the B.A. requiring monopoly. Consequently, recognizing what an individual is really strong in plays an important role in determining whether or not one should even try the college route. He makes his point very clear by encouraging potential B.A. pursuers to throw out averages found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The essence of his article is summed up in the following example he gives: one who ranks very high in all the areas that are necessary to be an electrician but ranks mediocre and average in all the areas that are necessary to be a manager will, in effect, become a top electrician but a mediocre if not below average manager. The earnings average of B.A. and non-B.A. holders, which is overly relied on by guidance counselors and parents alike, shows that this person will earn much less as a non-B.A. electrician than a top level B.A. manager. However, these averages are not to be applied to this individual as he has the ability to become a top ranking electrician and if he goes the B.A. route will, at best, become a mediocre (if not below par manager). The earnings of these two positions is strikingly attractive. Using these same labor statistics, this individual will earn twice as much as a non-B.A. top level electrician than as a B.A.-holding mediocre manager.

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