Carlos

I hate college

75 posts in this topic

As for your choice of career - I don't see why you would give up on teaching physics, or research.
I haven't at all. If anything I'll have prospects for much more exciting research outside of Physics. Electrical Engineering departments often have huge grants from the military, so you can only imagine how exciting that research has to be :lol: Trying to study the breakdown of dielectrics when exposed to GigaWatt microwaves sounds pretty cool to me!

Well, here is what I think...

From what I've seen EE has a *very* rationalistic approach to knowledge. It's all about formulas connected to other formulas, mathematics detached from physical meaning.

For someone who comes from physics, who likes to understand how things work, how reality works, it would be agony.

I have a friend who recently finished a double degree in physics and EE, and he said that he saw a big difference between him and people who only took EE - they did not understand as well as he did what the theoretical knowledge they were given really meant.

I myself hated with passion every single course I ever took from the faculty of EE. I would not have a degree there even if I had to manually pluck every single hair on my body with a pair of tweezers, haha.

I believe they are not special or different from other schools.

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As for your choice of career - I don't see why you would give up on teaching physics, or research.
I haven't at all. If anything I'll have prospects for much more exciting research outside of Physics. Electrical Engineering departments often have huge grants from the military, so you can only imagine how exciting that research has to be :lol: Trying to study the breakdown of dielectrics when exposed to GigaWatt microwaves sounds pretty cool to me!

Well, here is what I think...

From what I've seen EE has a *very* rationalistic approach to knowledge. It's all about formulas connected to other formulas, mathematics detached from physical meaning.

For someone who comes from physics, who likes to understand how things work, how reality works, it would be agony.

I have a friend who recently finished a double degree in physics and EE, and he said that he saw a big difference between him and people who only took EE - they did not understand as well as he did what the theoretical knowledge they were given really meant.

I myself hated with passion every single course I ever took from the faculty of EE. I would not have a degree there even if I had to manually pluck every single hair on my body with a pair of tweezers, haha.

I believe they are not special or different from other schools.

I'm sure most of this is true and I've heard similar things from my friend who is now doing EE, but as far as I know it only applies to the undergraduate level. What I'm concerned with is doing research in grad school, and in that aspect it looks very, very good!

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As for your choice of career - I don't see why you would give up on teaching physics, or research.
I haven't at all. If anything I'll have prospects for much more exciting research outside of Physics. Electrical Engineering departments often have huge grants from the military, so you can only imagine how exciting that research has to be :D Trying to study the breakdown of dielectrics when exposed to GigaWatt microwaves sounds pretty cool to me!

Well, here is what I think...

From what I've seen EE has a *very* rationalistic approach to knowledge. It's all about formulas connected to other formulas, mathematics detached from physical meaning.

For someone who comes from physics, who likes to understand how things work, how reality works, it would be agony.

I have a friend who recently finished a double degree in physics and EE, and he said that he saw a big difference between him and people who only took EE - they did not understand as well as he did what the theoretical knowledge they were given really meant.

I myself hated with passion every single course I ever took from the faculty of EE. I would not have a degree there even if I had to manually pluck every single hair on my body with a pair of tweezers, haha.

I believe they are not special or different from other schools.

Probably the most important point that can be taken from this is that an undergraduate degree on it's own is starting to not mean anything anymore, because people are graduating with degrees in hard sciences that apparently have learned nothing. :lol:

I don't know about others, but the majority of my Physics/Math knowledge came self-taught. Without my strong drive that pushed me to learn so much outside of the classroom I don't even want to contemplate the kind of dunce I could have graduated as...

Sorry that this thread has basically turned into an outlet for negative emotions and ranting for me, but basically I've finally realized that on all levels and across all fields education is dying, and no one seems to care... it's a a very, very, sad thing.

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I don't know about others, but the majority of my Physics/Math knowledge came self-taught.

This is my experience as well. And this is to say nothing of writing skills, which are not taught at all (English 101 does not count at all in my book)!

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Engineering departments have their own problems, though. The professors are generally not native English speakers, coming mostly from China, Taiwan, India, and Eastern Europe. So not only do you have to learn a complex topic, you have to learn to understand what it is they are saying.

Uh, Physics departments are dialect festivals! All of my physics courses are taught by foreigners, and in grad school only a tiny minority of students are American (which has kind of a disturbing implication... does America not produce any scientists anymore?)

Science is "boring" and for "nerds". Haven't you heard?

It seems to be different in biomedical sciences. At all my interviews so far the vast majority of people there are American. There are some foreign people but really not that many...

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Probably the most important point that can be taken from this is that an undergraduate degree on it's own is starting to not mean anything anymore, because people are graduating with degrees in hard sciences that apparently have learned nothing. :lol:

Ack. I want to clarify exactly what I mean here, because I don't want someone who is proud to be getting only an undergrad degree to read this and think "gee, this pretentious grad student makes me feel like crap...".

Earning an undergrad degree certainly is something to be proud of. My point is that right now the standards are declining, so that 20 years from now an undergraduate degree on it's own may be worthless, and a Masters might be the equivalent of what a Bachelors was 30 years ago.

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Probably the most important point that can be taken from this is that an undergraduate degree on it's own is starting to not mean anything anymore, because people are graduating with degrees in hard sciences that apparently have learned nothing. :lol:

Ack. I want to clarify exactly what I mean here, because I don't want someone who is proud to be getting only an undergrad degree to read this and think "gee, this pretentious grad student makes me feel like crap...".

Earning an undergrad degree certainly is something to be proud of. My point is that right now the standards are declining, so that 20 years from now an undergraduate degree on it's own may be worthless, and a Masters might be the equivalent of what a Bachelors was 30 years ago.

I already see a little of that... There's a lot of inflation going on, both in undergrad and master's degrees. I see so many examples every day of people who really shouldn't be graduating, and it's kind of depressing to think that they have the same degree you do; in effect devaluing your achievements indirectly. If there comes a time when employers know that most graduates of a certain program are pretty much incapable, it'll be far harder to find a job with such a degree.

That's why all those grade inflation trends are also so bad. Oh well, I'm going on for a doctorate =)

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http://web.mit.edu/hml/ncfmf.html

Check out these videos on Fluid Mechanics from back in the early 1960s by Ascher Shapiro. It is the best approach to the teaching of physical principles that I have yet seen.

Now compare that to how they are commonly taught in colleges.

Thanks, this is interesting to look through!

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Probably the most important point that can be taken from this is that an undergraduate degree on it's own is starting to not mean anything anymore, because people are graduating with degrees in hard sciences that apparently have learned nothing. :lol:

Ack. I want to clarify exactly what I mean here, because I don't want someone who is proud to be getting only an undergrad degree to read this and think "gee, this pretentious grad student makes me feel like crap...".

Earning an undergrad degree certainly is something to be proud of. My point is that right now the standards are declining, so that 20 years from now an undergraduate degree on it's own may be worthless, and a Masters might be the equivalent of what a Bachelors was 30 years ago.

I already see a little of that... There's a lot of inflation going on, both in undergrad and master's degrees. I see so many examples every day of people who really shouldn't be graduating, and it's kind of depressing to think that they have the same degree you do; in effect devaluing your achievements indirectly. If there comes a time when employers know that most graduates of a certain program are pretty much incapable, it'll be far harder to find a job with such a degree.

Which means that as universities keep adding goodies like additional recreational facilities to lure droves of students then the cost of education will continue to increase unabated, and as students are pressured to obtain higher and higher degrees they'll just go deeper and deeper in debt while still learning nothing :D
That's why all those grade inflation trends are also so bad. Oh well, I'm going on for a doctorate =)
Sounds nice :D What are you studying?

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Some of the posts on this thread have been split off into a new topic titled "Vascular System Biology and Cancer " (link).

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I work with physics and engineering PhDs. When this topic comes up, uniformly they find the PhD did not pay for itself in industry. The equivalent time in grad school spent in industry would work out better financially over the course of a career. (Take 5 years @ 80%, say, of the salary you'd get with a PhD and add in the additional compound interest on savings from the start of a career through retirement, vs. holding off 5 years for a potentially higher salary, without the additional years of interest, and you come out well behind in the nest egg at retirement.)

Some PhDs do years of research in a very narrow subject that has little or no job prospects, so they enter industry as an expert in a not-directly-relevant subject. The paper shows they can be experts, and can dedicate a lot of focus and time on a subject.

For someone who wants to work in industry today, I think the best combination is a Master's and an extra few years of real work. With an MS you can know enough and be able to read technical journals to learn what you need. Even with a BS that's possible, but an MS gives you much of what the PhD will learn in coursework.

For those interested, academia really requires a PhD, but it is very independent of an industry career path.

I would suggest looking at the specific requirements for a specific job you have in mind and go from there. The days of Bell Labs and Xerox PARC are gone. There are some small companies (<100 people) that do allow PhDs to do research, but rarely do newly-minted ones get to lead projects. Industry experience often trumps advanced studies.

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Some additional thoughts:

Re: EE vs Physics research, there is a lot of overlap. For applied stuff, the EE work may break down into sub-disciplines, to where an EE handles circuit design while another EE handles command and control or another EE handles rf or EMI. A physicist will rarely do the circuit design, but he will probably focus on the basic function of the device.

I've heard it said that grad school is where engineers learn physics, which I experienced to some degree (undergrad phys classes overlapped a lot with grad engineering courses).

The EE will emerge from school with a toolkit of marketable skills, like Autocad or VHDML. The BS in physics prepares a student for grad school. (I took as many applied classes as possible, and it helped me get my first job.)

There are some, but very few, industrial positions for theoretical PhD physicists. Most physics research is at universities and national labs. You may not like it, but if that's your passion, those are the most likely places to do that type of work.

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I attended Cal Poly, SLO in the 80's and loved it. It was competitive, economical, and challenging as h3ll. If you didn't cut it, there were 10 applicants behind you willing to take your slot, so you busted your butt to stay involved in your studies.

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For what it's worth, Texas Tech University has completed The River of The Damned.

As a note of irony, when I google-searched for an update of this project I realized that I did not even know the correct spelling of the word "leisure".

This article provides some useful information on the project: http://techimpressions.net/082/leisurepool/comparison.php

Texas Tech started with a budget of $5.5 million to build the pool, but that increased to $7.4 million when Tech students voted to increase student recreation fees by $10. In early February, the student government association voted to increase student recreation fees by $5, bring the total fee to $80 for a student taking 12 hours a semester. This fee increase must still be approved by the board of regents. Increasing these fees brings the total project to an estimated $10 million.

Now compare that with this news article: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,...1838872,00.html

Faced with rising costs, decreased funding and laws in many states designed to keep public universities from hiking up tuition, many state school systems are making up for budget shortfalls by tacking on fees for everything from "technology" to "energy." In some cases, these fees amount to several times a school's base tuition. Meanwhile, the average cost to attend a public school increased 47% between 2000 and 2007 (adjusted for inflation) according to the College Board, a non-profit that studies education costs and owns the SAT.

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Getting to know college and the academic world has turned into a rather sharp disappointment for myself. Every day on some level it feels as if I'm inundated by lazy, passionless students who are just placing their warm bodies in a class room ...

There is no argument there. The causes are many. The confluence of those causes and their effects define the world of human action. I have the same problems in my field, criminology. That said, allow me to suggest some perspectives.

It does not matter what "they" do. All that counts is what -you- do. If you were a butcher you could complain that most of your customers have no appreciation for meat. They just stuff themselves with it. They buy cheap cuts -- which would be fine for their budgets - but then prepare them without interest when so much more is possible. Or they but top cuts and treat them like stew. Again, none of that is your concern. The important thing is the best customers, the best suppliers, the philosophy that you bring to your work.

In my field the sensible people are the Marxists because the consensus is becoming Postmodernist. It makes no difference to me. I take what I can get -- truths, facts, mid-range theories -- and integrate it into what I know is right. I do not pretend to get into their heads to change their minds. My concern is with my work, my career.

My avocation is numismatics. For people who buy and sell money for fun, they still have many collectivist, mysticist ideas about markets and economics. Focused on die cracks and overpunched dates, they are baffled when their banks want to charge them to exchange $100 in paper for $100 in rolled cents. Again, we can discuss this -- and I do -- but at some level, it becomes uninteresting because I ultimately do not care what they do.

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I work with physics and engineering PhDs. When this topic comes up, uniformly they find the PhD did not pay for itself in industry. The equivalent time in grad school spent in industry would work out better financially o...

1. Or, rather than going into physics or engineering at all, you could be a drug dealer, basketball player or a rock star. You could make a lot of money selling kitchenware on television or showing people how to make money in stocks: you build up a sucker list and sell them "reports" on which stocks to buy. There's lots of ways to get yoru hands on loot.

As important as money is -- and it is -- it is not a goal without context.

2. About 1000 years ago, I was working as a programmer and I was commuting with a young guy a little older, a new Ph.D. and he said that he was finally on a project where all the people held doctorates. It was nice, he said, because it is annoying to have people with master's degrees trying to prove that they are just as smart as Ph.D.s "And they are just as smart," he said. 'I'm just tired of them always trying to prove it." So, I took that to heart and 1000 years later when I decided to go back to school to complete the four-year degree I never needed before, I decided not to stop until I got a Ph.D. I went back in 2005. I am half-way through my master's now and looking at doctoral programs. I don't care what it costs or what it earns. To me, it is something I am doing for myself.

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Mike Marotta, to your point 1. I'd add that it is relatively easy to gain extra income AND produce value, for someone dedicated enough to want to make it work. Tim Ferriss (although completely with the wrong philosophy) explains how to leverage your time to make it work in his book the "4h workweek". In the UK at least, this is easier to do in a PhD than in industry, simply because the academics just don't work as hard. I know that this is not true of the better US institutions like MIT, where the hours are closer to investment banking! (if you really are passionate)

Completely agree with 2.

And in reply to the thread title, and above comments about the lack of motivation of other students. Some (a few) of them have an open mind. Make them into Objectivists (without telling them what you are doing). Ignore the rest. I owe my personal happiness, and the discovery of my passion (investing), to a particularly eloquent neighbour who had had the fortune of reading Ms. Rand's output when he was much younger than I was. (I then stole his girl, and therefore we didn't talk for two years, but thanks anyway, appreciate it enormously!) I found a lot of like minds in right-wing political groups, like the Conservative Association (CUCA), the Libertarian Society, the Republicans... thinkers tended to be of that political leaning.

The key to surviving college is to make your life very efficient (which requires a lot of discipline). Automate repetitive tasks, batch emails, figure out what the examiners and box tickers want, execute. A friend of mine learnt (i.e. saw for the first time) 300 pages of extremely difficult mathematics (this is Cambridge undergrad) in the 2 hours before the exam and got a first (highest grade available). He narrowed the material to 11 pages of what the course really was about, and by looking through questions figured out what would come up, and what the examiner wanted to hear. Once your life is efficient, you use the enormous spare time to achieve outside your field. I tried starting "hardware" companies (and learnt a lot from failing) and started my own orchestra; aforementioned friend eventually just went trading full time in a hedge fund in London, only bothering to look at his lecture courses the couple of weeks before exams, still getting firsts.

As for the source of the decay of higher education, the State comes to mind. Very well described, indeed, in many of Ms. Rand's works.

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So, I took that to heart and 1000 years later when I decided to go back to school to complete the four-year degree I never needed before, I decided not to stop until I got a Ph.D.

Why didn't you need it before, and why do you need it now?

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Despite this being an old and inactive thread, I wanted to end it on a positive note to counterbalance the initial negative tone.

In the five years since writing the opening post of this thread I have completed two graduate programs, gotten to participate in some thrilling physics research in a vibrant research group (despite being at a bottom of the barrel university), and have recently accepted a research position at a high ranking university. Despite all the negative things I've said about the university system and higher education, for what it's worth the process of doing research as a graduate student is still quite close to being a meritocracy, and if you work hard and do good work the right people will notice it and recognize you for it, no matter the low prestige of your schooling.

With that said, many of my negative comments, which were partially inaccurate due to my own immaturity and lack of experience with the university system and grad school, were in some ways chillingly close to the mark, in that the higher ed system really is incredibly corrupt, inefficient, and essentially combines the worst aspects of the stereotypical soulless private-sector mega-corporation that buys favors from politicians with the sprawling size and wasteful ineffectiveness of a government bureaucracy. It is utterly unsustainable in its current path, and mirrors in many startling ways the housing bubble that burst so ruinously.

But what I realized matters is that I love science more than I hate the University. At the end of the day all that matters is the enjoyment of your values, and all the negative stuff--the corruption, the cosmic scale waste of taxpayer dollars, the lack of ideals in the university system--none of it really matters in the end. I say this because I don't want to demotivate future objectivists interested in pursuing the hard science, especially into grad school; if your heart is in it, and you are willing to work hard, there are still great opportunities for young scientists, provided you enter this crazy world with eyes open, fully aware of what awaits you. Never, ever for a second, voice a single political opinion on anything; just keep your head down and work your ass off, and you will learn a lot of skills that are transferrable to other occupations even beyond science/tech/engineering industries, as well as participate in really enjoyable research.

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Despite this being an old and inactive thread, I wanted to end it on a positive note to counterbalance the initial negative tone.

...

But what I realized matters is that I love science more than I hate the University. At the end of the day all that matters is the enjoyment of your values, and all the negative stuff--the corruption, the cosmic scale waste of taxpayer dollars, the lack of ideals in the university system--none of it really matters in the end. I say this because I don't want to demotivate future objectivists interested in pursuing the hard science, especially into grad school; if your heart is in it, and you are willing to work hard, there are still great opportunities for young scientists, provided you enter this crazy world with eyes open, fully aware of what awaits you. Never, ever for a second, voice a single political opinion on anything; just keep your head down and work your ass off, and you will learn a lot of skills that are transferrable to other occupations even beyond science/tech/engineering industries, as well as participate in really enjoyable research.

Very well said. Thanks for that input! You are a wiser man, it's clear.

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The bottom of a barrel is like a quarry -- it doesn't matter as long as you are making progress. Peter Keating-like "prestige" never matters.

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If you still; have loans and grants remaining, here is what I suggest, especially if you are young, male and unattached. SAY that you want to teach, get an "extra" 4k of loans per year at college, with the teacher's loan. They call it a grant, but it's a loan. enter all scholarships, even if you have to have somebody else do the required essay.some are very proforma, you will pick up several k more $ per year in this manner. sell your blood plasma, it makes you 3k per year. eat at the mission, the supper is usually very good, and they'll let you go thru the line twice.. Anyone can get $200 per month of food stamps, which can be sold very readily for $100 cash. Live in a $1000, 12 year old dodge mini-van, they can be found everywhere in the US. move it twice a day, morning and night, and don't park it at the same spot., get around via bus and bike, and your "rent", vehicle and "utility" costs will average under $200 per month, including repair/replacement, gas, and insurance. Park halfway between the mission and the school,near a bus stop. If you are unemployed, the unemployment bureau will pay your tuition. So you wind up with about 25k cash in your pocket per year, and you can easily live on just 10k per year,if you do the van thing. You can hustle jobs on the "all gigs" part of Craigslist, during your school breaks. Read the texts in the library, or get cheap, used, 1 year "out of date" (it won't matter) books from Amazon.

After a year, use a summer break to go to the Phillipinnes and pick out a lovely, smart, young NURSE, already practicing. It will take 4-6 months to get her visa here. She has just 90 days after her arrival to marry you, or she must go back. after marriage, she can get a job at Lowe's, Hobby Lobby, 711, Home Depot, $11 an hour, while she updates her education to have an RN's license HERE. That will take a year or so. But she gets the same 20k per year of grants and loans, ya see, and those are CASH. Those are YOURS, in return for your having lifted her out of that sewer over there. She also has to pay for her own car, rent, utilities,etc. but she will still be banking 10k per year or more,after that first year. It takes 5 years for her to get US citizenship, but then WATCH OUT. :-) buy your properties as a Nevada corporation, and don't let her know about any of it. Look into getting an older veteran to get a similar lady, in return for letting you use his (one and only) VA home loan. No 20% down payment is required.

find a big old house 4000 square feet or more, big garage, attic, basement,, in an area where it's known to be all rented out as flophouses. get most rooms rented, then start dividing them in half. You can get $100 per week for "sober living" rentals (easily evicted,very important) for 20 rooms or more, and if you provide Net, computer, Cable TV and Tv, microwave and small fridge in each room (communal bath) and keep the place clean, you'll have a WAITING list of tenants. Keep living frugally, and every year, you can double the number of such places that you rent out. By the time that your Filipina divorces you, you'll have 80k a year after tax, corporations don't pay that 15% self employed SS, guys, paying someone to manage the (in house) managers at each place. All you have to do is check on your general manager now and then. It can't be done just anywhere, but it IS being done LOTS of places. The loans are HER loans, bud. If you make her aware of what she will owe, all's fair. If she will move where the action is and work some overtime, an RN can clear 60k per year. So she can easily pay off 65k of student loans in 2 years. She;'ll be in heaven, don't worry about HER. And in 5-6 years, you'll have a great income. you will have no boss, I suggest that you NOT pay more on the various home mortgages than the minimal amount. the interest rates are the same as our annual inflation rate (about 5%, average) So let the BANK worry about riots, quakes, storms, floods, loss of market value.:-)

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