How to get 'higher education' without getting a college degree

Although I don't have a college degree, I did attend college for a couple years.  An associate's degree in machine tool technology was requisite for an experimental position at my workplace.  Halfway through my schooling, the experiment fizzled, and with that, my academic career.  Although I was working at the factory seven days a week and teaching the Bible twice a week at one of the bigger churches in town, I maintained a 4.0 GPA.  For contrast, I graduated high school with a 1.75 GPA.

But I was striving for a position, not a piece of paper.  When the position evaporated, so did my academic stint.

AT carried an article on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, titled, "The Decline and Fall of Higher Education," by Michael Thau, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy for 13 years, in which he lamented both what college students are not learning and what they are learning: poor work ethic, low goals, and prioritizing partying over performance.

Anyone can throw rocks at what academia is producing.  It bears weight when the hurler is an academic.  It's an excellent read.

I love reading American Thinker. I strongly suspect that I get more education here than I did while in college – or at least the information is more valuable.

I'd like to compare the GDP of academia to the GDP of the blue-collar arena.  The orchestrators in academia are the faculty.  They set the standards.  In the sweaty-stinky world, the standards are set by the parents, foremen (managers), and commanders (military).

My manager at the factory is an excellent example of doing it right.  He falls into that rare category of managers who, even though they invest 60-plus hours a week doing their job, spend their off-time coaching their kids' softball/football/soccer/etc. team.  Sports coaches understand congenitally that success requires excellence.

As an average public school graduate, you discover pretty soon in the working world that you can clock in, blend in, and clock out, with little effort expended, and receive a paycheck every week.  Technically, that's all that can be expected of you.  Managers who have a coaching background are never satisfied with that type of performance.  You can't win with that type of ethic, and if that's what you embrace, you are, by default, a loser.  "Not on my watch," says the coach.

Here's a supplementary example from the military: when I was a 19-year-old infantryman, my first sergeant was Myron Kindrick – a feisty Irishman.  I'll never forget his name.  One day, he announced to the company that in anticipation of a forthcoming physical-fitness test, anyone who could not do 50 push-ups, do 50 sit-ups and run 2 miles in under 15 minutes would be placed on "remedial P.T." (physical fitness training after duty hours).

A lone voice sounded out from the formation, crying, "You can't do that, First Sergeant!"

Snapping his glare to the protester, 1SG Kindrick retorted, "I can't do what?"

"Army standards dictate that we're only required to do 40 push-ups, do 40 sit-ups, and run 2 miles in 17 minutes," replied the protester.

"You're absolutely correct, young man!" the 1SG replied.  "Those are the Army's minimum standards, and I cannot set standards below them.  But this is not – and as long as I'm in charge, never will be – a 'minimum standards' outfit."

When the substandard performers had to stay after duty to do P.T., the instructor was 1SG Kindrick.  He'd placed himself on extra duty even though he consistently maxed out the P.T. standards.

I'm 53 now.  That was 34 years ago.  To this day, I cannot bring myself to perform at minimum standards in any arena.  It's unconscionable.  Rock on, 1SG.  Put me in, coach.  I'll perform.

Contrast that perspective with the academic diorama laid out by Dr. Thau's description of low standards and minimum performance.  How did I go from a 1.75 GPA in high school to a 4.0 in college?  You tell me: who truly got the "higher education"?

Mike VanOuse is a Factoryjack (one who works in a factory) from Indiana, right across the river from Purdue University.

Although I don't have a college degree, I did attend college for a couple years.  An associate's degree in machine tool technology was requisite for an experimental position at my workplace.  Halfway through my schooling, the experiment fizzled, and with that, my academic career.  Although I was working at the factory seven days a week and teaching the Bible twice a week at one of the bigger churches in town, I maintained a 4.0 GPA.  For contrast, I graduated high school with a 1.75 GPA.

But I was striving for a position, not a piece of paper.  When the position evaporated, so did my academic stint.

AT carried an article on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, titled, "The Decline and Fall of Higher Education," by Michael Thau, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy for 13 years, in which he lamented both what college students are not learning and what they are learning: poor work ethic, low goals, and prioritizing partying over performance.

Anyone can throw rocks at what academia is producing.  It bears weight when the hurler is an academic.  It's an excellent read.

I love reading American Thinker. I strongly suspect that I get more education here than I did while in college – or at least the information is more valuable.

I'd like to compare the GDP of academia to the GDP of the blue-collar arena.  The orchestrators in academia are the faculty.  They set the standards.  In the sweaty-stinky world, the standards are set by the parents, foremen (managers), and commanders (military).

My manager at the factory is an excellent example of doing it right.  He falls into that rare category of managers who, even though they invest 60-plus hours a week doing their job, spend their off-time coaching their kids' softball/football/soccer/etc. team.  Sports coaches understand congenitally that success requires excellence.

As an average public school graduate, you discover pretty soon in the working world that you can clock in, blend in, and clock out, with little effort expended, and receive a paycheck every week.  Technically, that's all that can be expected of you.  Managers who have a coaching background are never satisfied with that type of performance.  You can't win with that type of ethic, and if that's what you embrace, you are, by default, a loser.  "Not on my watch," says the coach.

Here's a supplementary example from the military: when I was a 19-year-old infantryman, my first sergeant was Myron Kindrick – a feisty Irishman.  I'll never forget his name.  One day, he announced to the company that in anticipation of a forthcoming physical-fitness test, anyone who could not do 50 push-ups, do 50 sit-ups and run 2 miles in under 15 minutes would be placed on "remedial P.T." (physical fitness training after duty hours).

A lone voice sounded out from the formation, crying, "You can't do that, First Sergeant!"

Snapping his glare to the protester, 1SG Kindrick retorted, "I can't do what?"

"Army standards dictate that we're only required to do 40 push-ups, do 40 sit-ups, and run 2 miles in 17 minutes," replied the protester.

"You're absolutely correct, young man!" the 1SG replied.  "Those are the Army's minimum standards, and I cannot set standards below them.  But this is not – and as long as I'm in charge, never will be – a 'minimum standards' outfit."

When the substandard performers had to stay after duty to do P.T., the instructor was 1SG Kindrick.  He'd placed himself on extra duty even though he consistently maxed out the P.T. standards.

I'm 53 now.  That was 34 years ago.  To this day, I cannot bring myself to perform at minimum standards in any arena.  It's unconscionable.  Rock on, 1SG.  Put me in, coach.  I'll perform.

Contrast that perspective with the academic diorama laid out by Dr. Thau's description of low standards and minimum performance.  How did I go from a 1.75 GPA in high school to a 4.0 in college?  You tell me: who truly got the "higher education"?

Mike VanOuse is a Factoryjack (one who works in a factory) from Indiana, right across the river from Purdue University.

RECENT VIDEOS