More Ranting: Careers, Majors and other Imaginary Bull#$%&


I enjoyed the rant on colleges and universities, and it seems to me that the cost of a college education goes up every single year while it has been a long, long time since there has been any real increase in the value. I think that colleges and universities have the luxury of a largely captive audience due to the fact that every middle-class family on the planet is convinced that their children will die poor, homeless and alone if they do not get a college degree.

It does seem to me that businesses could be putting more pressure on the secondary education community, but for some reason it does not seem to be happening. This might be an opportunity for HR to play a more strategic role and I think that most colleges and universities would be pretty jazzed about partnering with businesses to examine curriculum as well as how to make internships, career services and other things more valuable. I know that some of this happens, but it seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

There is some stuff that we disagree on though…

I do very much want the college experience to be more valuable and more challenging. I think that colleges tend towards arrogance and take advantage of students who are often borrowing large sums of money to be there. I think that colleges far too often put really smart people who are horrible educators in front of college students.


I do think that college (whatever kind of college, whenever attended) should be about exploration…in fact I think that there should be much more exploration.

I strongly agree with what you said about the importance of personal development and self-mastery, more of that should be integrated into college, as well as professional settings and the K-12 system. But I think that this whole idea of selecting a career is bullshit, and I feel the same way about “majors”…especially “business majors.” As a matter of fact, as I take a look at the state of business today, I think that we should immediately delete all business undergraduate and MBA programs. “Business people” and “financial people” want to talk shit about HR and say that HR is not relevant? Are you kidding me?

But I digress.

I think we create a bunch of simplistic categories that become limiting and get in the way of a more balanced and integrated approach.

Unlike most of my classmates, I did not know what I wanted to be in 10th grade. Or 11th grade. Or 12th grade. I did not know what I wanted to be in my first attempt at college. I did not know what I wanted to be while I was in the Marine Corps, or during my second and much more successful attempt at college. I was actually about 35 years old before I actually got some real clarity as to what I wanted to do professionally. I am deeply grateful that I eventually made that discovery, but I had to do a lot of other stuff to get there. I had to get lost to find my calling.

Yes, this is now “Deep Thoughts, by Joe Gerstandt.”

I guess that I think that education (as well as professional development) could be more valuable and more applicable if it was more about exploration, trying new things and getting outside of your comfort zone. I realize this does not look neat and orderly if you are the one paying the bills, writing the curriculum or monitoring the sacred metrics, but this is part of how real growth and learning happen.

I have, over the past 10+ years, learned a great deal from being in an on-going dialogue about work and business and leadership with you. A Great Deal. Is there any college (or business) out there that does a good job of putting learners in formal or informal relationships with people like you? No. They do not understand how real learning happens…or at least how to make it profitable. Blogging can be a powerful development tool…do colleges (and businesses) use it that way? A few. But as we both know businesses (and many colleges) are more likely to view blogging as being about as valuable to them as communism.

I think that from kindergarten, through high school, college, professional and leadership development there is not a lot of real learning to be found. In my experience, most of it happens elsewhere, and often by accident.


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