Can someone please tell me when the Baccaloriate Degree equaled the High School Diploma's uselessness? Perhaps the issues is really that we have several thousand business majors here who are perfectly content with very little, and they have actually devalued themselves. They are both perp and victim.
A few weeks ago K and I needed to rent a car for a few days while the trusty VW went in for service. K was picked up by a young woman from Enterprise Rent-a-Car who told him on the drive to the office that everyone at Enterprise has a college degree. Everyone. K returned home that evening with a Chevy Cobalt and horrifying news: one must have a degree to work at Enterprise. On one hand, I suppose that's why the people who work there have a brain. On the other hand: Holy fucking crap! So, when I met 75 (mostly) business majors in my class two weeks ago, I asked each group of 25 if they were aware of this horrible news. "Yes," each class told me, "In fact, that's a great job! Enterprise has outstanding management training classes, and for those who work hard, advancement and big pay follows."
This was not the response I was expecting. I thought any reasonable person would ask, "Gosh, is that what it has come to?" And if you want to accuse me of being elitist, for I acknowledge I am, go ahead. Is it really elisist to want more after 4 years of university education and student debt to want to fill my days with something more rewarding than great management training opportunities and money? I do imagine I'm elitist, but I also think those student are whores to the wrong thing: money.
But, why should I jump all over them? What guidance have they been given here in SoCal? Revealed early in my teaching stint, and reinforced by years of predictability, the business majors I encounter here are generally uninterested in learning, disdainful of indulging in empathy, and very interested in money. On the first day of class, I go around the room and ask each person a bit about him or herself. Quite expectedly, students will tell me something like, "I'm ready to graduate. I hate school. I just wanna get out and make money. I don't know what I want to do, finance or something. It's boring, but you can make bank." Elitism notwithstanding, they admit they are headed for boredom, and this is a reasonable price for a big pay check. Then I ask what interests them as people. Again, quite predictably, the answer is "Nothing." Once in a while I can egg them on and get them to admit that they like sports or smoking weed or something, but by in large they flatly insist they have no interests. I am constantly reminded of the Nihlists in the Big Lebowski who insist through the film, "We are nihlists; we believe in nothing."
It is a striking change from just 2 years ago. At that time I taught freshmen who are now juniors like the students I have. The freshmen at that time loved parental authority and Jesus. And the war too. They hated taxes and unions, and were all glittery-eyed at the prospect of having Bible study after class. They missed their room back home, and had an awkward relationship with their dorm-mate. Now, their colleagues reject parental authroity, claim no religious affiliation, still hate unions and taxes, and could not care less about the war. Is it possible to calculate the ways in which we have failed them? 21 years old, [almost] have a B.A. degree, and they care about nothing. Have no interests. No wonder people around me on the 215 are full of rage.
I wonder if it will get better soon? The weird little bubble they live in is bursting. One hummer-driving woman who lived near us and had several road-ragey encounters with us over the years has just disappeared from our neighborhood. Her house is empty, and the Hummer is gone. I assume that like many of my neighbors she may have been a victim of a variable interest rate mortgage, and moved back to Phelan or Trona or wherever she's from. Perhaps not. But, what if she was? Is she living with her parents now wondering what the hell is going on? I think that only a profound crisis can jar us out of this awful stupor in which we are excited, actually excited, about the prospects of working at Enterprise after graduation.
Or, is it just a matter of age? I'm around 18-21 year-olds so much now that I have no concept of if or when they grow out of this. Maybe one week after graduation they are at Enterprise, and they think back to that annyoing, hippy chick they had for a teacher, and realize I'd warned them.
Do I think I have the answer? Actually, yes. My religious friends think they have the asnwer, and I've heard few accuse them of being elitist or narcisistic. To my friends majoring in business, I beceech you: Stop disdaining learning; start acting like a fucking human being.