Takeaway: College may not be for everyone.
Professor X challenges the American notion that everyone should go to college, and that everyone who can sign a loan application is college material. It’s a very thought-provoking thesis, and one that’s hard to argue against. The college degree is losing its value partially because it’s so frequently misused as a minimum qualification for jobs that probably don’t need it. Police officers, video store managers, nurses, car salesman… these jobs cover a wide spectrum of specialized skills and knowledge, yet all now require at least a two year degree. But no one seems to be asking why.
Professor X is an adjunct instructor of English 101 and 102 at two local colleges. He tells you about the assigned papers he receives. The grammar and spelling is atrocious. Obviously there are a lot of people with high school degrees that were passed year after year without a basic understanding of the material. But that’s really not the point of the book. The point is, why are these students being forced to take his class? And what is Professor X’s responsibility in this? Most in the class deserve F’s, because there is no way he can make up for years of neglect in the span of 13 weeks. Yet, he is torn with failing students that are trying to do the right thing by going back to college to earn a degree to make a better life for their families.
More importantly though, why do we require our local police officers to have written a paper on Faulkner, or to write a poem in the style of e.e. cummings? Does that really make them better police officers? Also consider the amount of debt many of these students are taking on. Many of them will be left with huge loan repayments which will be more than their new college degree required job pays.
It’s a challenging but good read.