The Root Problem of the US Education System
Millennials are notorious for displaying a lack of motivation, but it’s not because they are lazy. It’s because they can sense a shift changing in society, and their subconscious is telling them to do something very different from what society is telling them. The value-system of our society is flipped on its head, where those who contribute the least are rewarded the most. And very soon, we may see this change, not because we want it to, but because we’ll have no choice.
It all starts with the dominant system of higher education in our country.
The fact that college majors are incredibly diverse and specified means that everyone is shoved down a tunnel into their chosen field such that by the time they graduate they cannot get out and nobody else can get it. By the time they graduate, they have so much specialized experience that someone who did not study it or do internships cannot break into the field unless they want to start from scratch. Someone who finished another major has little chance in that field because they usually cannot afford to start from scratch for a few reasons: 1) need to work to pay college loans 2) need to work to pay bills 3) need to work to support family, and if not they may be considering settling down in the next few years where starting from scratch would take too much time and thus be ruled out.
In our country in the past and in other countries now, the university system is very different. The majors are less varied and surround mostly technical subjects. The idea is that once you are trained in a scientific field, you will be taught how to think and understand the way the world/society works, such that if you studied physics and don’t want to spend your life in a lab, you can pursue a different career path, not in spite of, but directly based off of your scientific background. In the US, science has become a niche, whereas in the past and elsewhere, the pursuit of a scientific field was a general rigorous training scheme which would prepare you for potentially whatever you wanted to pursue down the line. In many countries today, politicians and industry leaders have had scientific or technical background (the US is a very, very different story). The rigorousness prepared them well for those positions, and they are evaluated based on holistic competency rather than skill or experience in doing a particular task.
I didn’t get the memo. I studied engineering not because I wanted to be an engineer, but because I wanted to qualify myself for whatever I might choose in the future, so I chose the most rigorous training possible, as to open up as many avenues as possible.
What I didn’t realize then was that there would be a plethora of graduates who had specialized experience in every other field making me effectively disqualified from any field other than engineering, and that even if I were capable/willing to learn, I would still be ruled out as a candidate because hiring someone with existing skills means that said skills can be capitalized upon faster.
Why, then, do our universities offer such a diverse array of majors?
Because in the US, the university has been optimized for profit rather than for education. There is now a major for every hobby, passion or interest. One does not need to challenge themselves to attain a degree; they simply need to have interest. Furthermore, business was never traditionally an undergraduate major. Business is at a higher level of abstraction from innovation, and therefore it was deemed that someone should play a part in said innovation prior to being involved in the process of monetizing it. But now, a majority of jobs are abstracted right out of graduation. There is a fractal like set of positions in marketing, sales, and finance, where one does not even have to understand the product being sold in order to have a role in the organization which sells it.
Why is there anything wrong with this? Because the sole purpose of these fractal-like roles of abstraction are to better exploit consumers into buying their products. In other words, so much investment goes into making the product seem appealing rather than making a superior product that would be appealing by virtue of its own superiority, and technological innovation is more expensive and more challenging than the art of illusion. Therefore, more capital is being generated in correspondence with absolutely no increase in the amount of real value being generated by a given organization or product. This is how what we call “bubbles” are formed. With this being the case, we can see the entire US economy as a bubble.
What happens after all this lack of value is exposed, investors withdraw their funds, and the market collapses?*
Companies will no longer have the ability to pay their employees for abstractions. But since we have been spending so many years training to be specialists in abstract roles, we will not have the skills nor the mindset to work on the low-abstraction level, whether functional (physical) or strategic (mental). At this point we will have to go back to basics and start to generate value from the very ground up: construction, farming, cooking, mechanical work for machinery, chemistry for sanitation, and then more advanced scientific tasks as the new society develops. At that point, those who are currently at the lowest income brackets will have the advantage, as their skills will be the most in-demand. And from there, we will have no choice but to rebuild.
What kind of society will be rebuild? That’s for you to decide.
*realization of a lack of value will not happen as a result of one particular event, nor even be consciously noticed; rather it will take the form of a prolonged and gradual degradation in the quality of life of the average consumer(those who are on the receiving end of “lack of value”) as well as rampant social disorder. One may argue that such degradation is already occurring.