The opinion piece published May 14, 2011 in The New York Times newspaper entitled Your So-Called Education makes a good case that university and college students are being cheated by their schools.
I have several friends that graduate this month from University of California, Berkeley. I hope they see this blog post and can comment publicly or privately whether they agree with the authors.
I certainly feel that the classes at University of California at Los Angeles, where I went, were too easy. The only classes I recall that really challenged me were Astrophysics and Computer Programming. The Astrophysics class was an AP level course, and I really had to work hard. But I remember a lot from that class today. The Computer Programming class was not an AP level class, but it was also really hard work. That class was the single most important class of my life, as it laid the groundwork for me to become a programmer.
All the other classes were forgettable and not challenging.
I’m nearly certain I learned to write in high school, not at university. The classes at Laboratory School, where I went to high school in Chicago, were harder than most of the classes I took at UCLA.
When I was at Brooks Institute, after UCLA, the classes were a joke. I could and usually did pass them with only one day a week of work. I regret I didn’t instead attend Art Center, in Passadena, CA, which reportedly required that an assignment be turned in 5 days a week. This would have been painful at the time, but beneficial to me in the long run.
If you are thinking about enrolling at Brooks, save your money. It was a full fledged economic scam. Yes, I learned to take pretty good pictures, but that was because of my talent for it that I developed after graduation. They could have compressed their ’4 year program’ into six months of actual hard work and saved my parents a fortune. A Brooks Institute degree used to cost about what a Stanford University degree used to cost. I should have gone to Stanford. I’m certain I could have kept up with and done the work, given what I know of my Stanford graduate friends. In fact, I have a strong and powerful suspicion that even most of the classes at Stanford aren’t particularly challenging.