Wednesday, November 06, 2013

State of Higher Education In America or My Chicken Caprese and The Higgs Boson

A little more than a year I was asked couple questions, and so I responded as follows:

Thank you for asking,

Yes, I have asked them about what academic programs they are planning to study, evenly in the following courses after that, some students change their minds after a while. Nevertheless, specifically, I pointed out about what they would love to do and dedicate their lives and talents to, essentially what is their vocation? What is that itch or call for? 

Now some of my sincere musings:

As we need more people who loves what they do:

For example, I know many people who have studied industrial chemistry (Bob that was for you, what are you doing with your PhD?and now they are plowing potatoes as farmers instead, and believe me, they feel happier doing so than to be doing what they should in a NCL (Nuclear Chemistry Laboratory).  

Anyway, if someone was trained to be an astronaut (or cosmonaut) and now he or she is working inside a manhole or as a taxi driver, as long as they are happy doing so, it is fine for me; however, it seems, that these aforementioned outcomes are not the main intend of obtaining a higher education, in the first place.  Again, I know many cases, and every time I look around, I see more.  

The other day a waiter was explaining to me the new findings and the underpinnings of the “God Particle or Higgs Boson," (by the way, I wrote this on July 2012, this year [2013] Peter W. Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics), so well, that I was compelled to ask him and I did, how come he knew all that stuff; he answered me, while his body was visibly shaking, somewhat with tears in his eyes, and while nervously holding my recently ordered dish, a modest "Pasta Chicken Caprese", in his unsecured hands: “I have a PhD in Physics and I was trained at the Princeton's Plasma Physics Lab;” he told me as someone who was vomiting and cursing the whole experience at once,(I thought about it, "that bad eh"), and then he suddenly as promptly left that cooked "chicken" over the table, and he marched towards the kitchen with his head down as he was looking at the floor with anger and resentment while I was hearing dumbfounded the eternal beating of the bouncing dish under the pasta with chicken and over the most cruel and evil wooden table. Yeah, it was reality down there and it is unfortunately the reality of many nowadays...

Some hours later, at the dawn of the other day, after that deep conversation over diner, I found myself teleported somehow in an emergency room at the hospital. Then, I understood the true meaning of life, its combination of a tomato sauce, chicken salmonella, a waiter with a PhD in Physics, all together with the God Particle in the physicality of my own ill and painful indigestion or in other words, food poisoning, I guess this was yet just another lesson for me.  I am telling you, it felt as if I were dying; ergo, I am not recommending you, to eat Chicken Caprese and talking about the God Particle at the same time. It is just not healthy. 

The main propeller, purpose or motivation of a great number of people to pursuit a higher education is to get a decent job, i.e., to make enough money to achieve the American Dream, a part of it or a least a decent life for you and for one's family. To put it, perhaps a little bit blatantly for you, many students [I am not stating: All, nor I am referring to the few neither] do not really care or know much about what they will be doing at their future jobs, or what entitles to do their work in the field which they would have chosen. Frequently, I have observed the absence of love or especial interest for the subject matter or for the entire profession at large. In other words, they want to drink the milk but they do not want to take care of the cow.  

The questions that we might want to ask as well are: How could we inculcate, not only the love for life-long learning but also for the services and efforts pertaining those different particular professions, which are most needed nowadays in a very competitive and ever changing marketplace? In other words, what type of professionals do we want? Which positions are being, or going to be, offered by significant employers? 

In addition, many corporations are stating that they do have many "openings" but they cannot hire anybody because they cannot find people with the right or appropriate qualifications, skills or knowledge-base.  What is wrong with that? Well, some positions are "permanently" opened for years and years, per secula seculorum. How come? There are employers, out there, who somehow prefer to wait for years for the "right individuals," instead to hire or training or retraining their employees. Not to mention the invention of outsourcing.... Go figure!
By average, for say, out of ten students, I have found that five want to study Business Administration, usually, three of those five, want to be enrolled in Business programs because they feel that these programs are easier than other programs. In addition, two or so, students would have explained that they want to study Business to make money by creating their own corporations; and some of them have presented how to do it with very genuine and somehow creative ideas.

The other 50% of students seem to have very diverse opinions. However, approximate 2 or 3 out of ten, want to build their careers in Nursery, Human Services, Social work, or Psychology, i.e., the helping professions. So, some of them are not only looking for money, but to serve and enjoy what they do, generally, these are students with already some professional experience. Moreover, 2 out of ten, want to be involved in Information Technology/Information System (IT/IS).  However, some have explained me that what they want to study is "computers". When, I have asked them what they mean by “computers” they have shown different perceptions about the field of "computers;" it seems, that for some students it means "Gaming;" for others, it means coding or programming; yet for others, it means graphic design, or web developing; and still others, that see the field as just "hacking" or evenly “mating”.  As I have stated, go figure!

PS. For those who truly care for my well-being, my “particles” are better now…they finally seem to have made peace with the God particle.  I do not know for how long so though… 


John M. Kennedy

Plowed Results | Resultados Arados