Useless University degree : numismatic

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I guess the benefit of getting a BS, BA and MA means that I know how to stick to something and get through it, so that's a plus.
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  3. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Nicholas Molinari likes this.
  4. NYandW

    NYandW Makes Cents!

    Let's include Women's Studies and 19th Century Literature... Zzzz
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  5. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    I wouldn't touch that line with a ten foot pole.....
  6. John Skelton

    John Skelton Morgan man!

    This sounds like what my son went theough. He came out of college with a degree in history and a minor in Spanish. Now he works tracking packages coming into the states for FedEx. So some of you who buy coins from overseas probably got tracked by him. Anyway, even though he didn't listen to me (so what else is new?), he could have used his college contacts to network into a job in his field. Especially since he bailed in his last year on being a teacher like he started out. But he learned how to think for himself and do research, which he liked. He had very good history teachers in high school, teachers who had started out wanting to be lawyers, but found out both professions required research skills, which they liked. So they became teachers.
  7. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    I was trying to get a discount on my car insurance for having a technical degree, but they questioned that my Doctor of Philosophy was a technical I had to bring in my BS diploma...(true story)
  8. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    ...or an 8 foot Czech
  9. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    Meh, tertiary education in general has degenerated to a remarkable degree, as has the quality of educators and their standards. At least half of the college students out there are unfit for anything more than semi-skilled labor, but sheepskin mills are a lucrative scam so the performance bar has been lowered so far you'd need GPR to find it and nonsense interdisciplinary "(Insert wedge-issue interest group here) Studies" departments are cobbled together to fleece thousands from the parents of ignoramuses who will only ever make a living from their degree if they become professors themselves and metastasize the cancer of their pseudointellectualism to fresh victims.

    Academia is rife with fraud and insufferable dogmatic ideologues infecting impressionable minds with critical theory, dialectical/historical materialism and other hogwash instead of actually nurturing genuine critical thinking abilities and open minded inquiry. My wife is a university professor and I get to hear about all the alarming dataset fabrication fraud, research grant fraud, functional enslavement of graduate students, and normal garden-variety laziness, stupidity and ignorance that she has to endure from her colleagues every week. It's a disgusting state of affairs and she'd love nothing more than abandoning that soul-stifling freakshow in favor of starting a rare herb and heirloom seed farm to raise the kids on.

    I had a nonfiction and antique book collection totaling about 3,800 volumes by senior year of high school, acquired over the prior decade from countless flea markets, sales, auctions etc. and was very optimistic about the access I would have to the vast stores of information and expertise at university which would surely put my modest library and limited personal knowledge to shame.

    Unfortunately all but a few professors were mediocre educators of unremarkable intellect and generally lacked the depth of knowledge and experience I was seeking. My focus was Historical Archaeology, but I'd been energetically engaged in my own independent study of the realm since the age of 5 and learned very little of value at school, instead suffering consistent frustration with the oversights and elementary mistakes of my teachers and the authors of articles we were assigned to read.

    The creeping disillusionment came to a head when I showed a rare embossed and pontiled bottle from the 1840s I'd excavated to my specialist Historical Archaeology professor and she called the pontil scar on the base an Owens Suction scar; a feature on early 20th century machine-blown bottles multiple stages of technical evolution beyond the early hand-blown pontil scarred bottles. It wasn't an understandable mistake either as the visible difference between the two is so immediately obvious that anyone could be shown an example once and recognize the difference from across a room for the rest of their lives. I about had a stroke right there as bottles and other vessels are of paramount importance when dating and interpreting historic era sites. It became crystal clear that I was wasting my time there and decided to drop-out and start the business I'd researched and planned out back in Junior year of high school. There was no way I was going to pay tens of thousands more for the privilege of suffering years of that BS until finally getting a doctorate that would never be as remunerative as the business ideas I dream up for free and that would promise to keep me surrounded by people like her until I retired or died of frustration. It wasn't all bad though, I made some good friends and handily won the rare book and manuscript collecting contest 1,000.00 grand prize for one of my small subcollections just before leaving. I almost felt guilty, lol :D

    University may be great for many people, especially those who prefer the comfort and predictability of being someone else's employee, but was essentially just a waste of time and money for me. All it did was put me in debt and delay the starting of my businesses for several years. It was probably the greatest mistake and disappointment of my life.
  10. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I agree Dialectical materialism is a curse.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
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  11. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Some scholars are entrapped in a web of theoretical perspectives that they pass on to students. In may day it was a Marxian view of history that some professors espoused, especially at the university I attended (Berkeley). However, in most other classes this was not the case. The reason I ended up studying archaeology and languages was that I was hoping to get a Ph.D. and become the next Indiana Jones.

    However, life threw me a curveball I started interviewing for jobs upon graduation. My girlfriend kind of talked me into it. After a couple of years of work I decided to get an MBA to make it easier to get promoted. Luckily the big company I worked for which is a household name had 100% tuition reimbursement, and I did get promoted after getting the degree. After a year I decided to get a Ph.D. again with tuition reimbursement so I feel pretty lucky. After that I quit the company and co-founded a software company in Silicon Valley.

    I often wonder what would have happened if I got my Ph.D. in Archaeology. There were 5 people in my hieratic class taught by a famous Egyptologist who discovered the tomb KV5 a couple of years after I graduated. Two of my classmates became well-known Egyptologists and are often on the Discover and History channels and provide a voice of reason to the usual sensationalism of these documentaries. I'm still friends with them on Facebook, and sometimes chat about the state of Archaeology today.

    Anyway, I'm sticking to my belief that an undergrad degree in the humanities is a perfectly acceptable way to advance in the world.
  12. John Skelton

    John Skelton Morgan man!

    Some of us use the critical thinking skills we learned in college to assess the state of the education we are receiving. Or maybe we learned those lessons from contemplation and doing further research on our own, since it seems life follows the law of physics: for ever reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction. "I've looked at life from both sides now" is not only the song, but the idea you make the effort to verify what you have learned.

    Or, as the Firesign Theater would say, "Everything You Know Is Wrong"
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  13. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    That's quite the generalization... based primarily on your own experience and your wife's? It depends a lot on the institution and the department. There's no denying that there are bad departments and bad institutions. There are also good departments and good institutions. YMMV.
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  14. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    It would seem to me that something like this numismatics degree would be extremely helpful if you were going to pursue a career as a numismatic researcher. You have access to high quality numismatists to help guide you as you learn how to research. You have access to a huge collection and library, and you have the encouragement to begin pursuing original research. If this is something that you want to do, it would seem like this sort of degree would be extremely valuable.

    To the majority of posters in this thread, it doesn't seem to have a lot of value because most people here aren't interested in doing original research. An archaeology degree is useful if your going to become an archaeologist - an Eastern Studies degree isn't terribly useful if you aren't going to be a researcher, teacher, or other professional in the field. And that's the problem with a lot of college degrees, it seems - people go to school to get a degree, and then realize that isn't what they really want to do. For me, getting a degree in rocket science was very useful because the math, science, techniques, and training I received have helped me to become a successful nuclear engineer.

    The other aspect which hasn't been mentioned very much in this thread is the credentials. For many jobs, you have to have proof that you have experience or training in a subject in order to be considered for a job. If you wanted to get a job as a professor of history or numismatics, you would need to show some proof that you are experienced in that field. A college degree is often one of the best credentials. If you want to publish a research paper on numismatics, having the credentials to show that you are an expert will go a long way to having your work respected.
  15. TheFinn

    TheFinn Well-Known Member

    For the $58,000 piece of parchment.
  16. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Place tongue firmly in cheek...why bother with these fancy schmancy degrees when the company you work for will probably expect you to be a salaried employee and work overtime for free when you can be an hourly worker and get that good overtime pay...:)
    CoinCorgi and RonSanderson like this.
  17. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    That’s assuming they allow you to get overtime... I’m strictly disallowed from
    Overtime and have to clock out no matter what before the 8 hour mark
  18. EWC3

    EWC3 (mood: stubborn)

    I think my circumstances differ, maybe specific to my age and nationality (67 and UK). I learned critical thinking as a schoolboy at a Grammar school. The school, like most such schools, was abolished the year I left (1971). At University I studied pure maths and philosophy. Maths is maths, but I found my philosophy course was really an attempt to damage my “critical thinking skills”. It seemed to me at the time that that was due to university humanities departments back peddling, in the light of the student revolts of 1969. Not that I have any sympathy with the 69 “revolution”. But what I seem and seemed to see was an abuse of critical thinking in 1969, opposed by a blocking of critical thinking, altogether, by 1971. A case where two wrongs made a wrong.

    Last week I came across a book by Justin E.H. Smith that seemed to encapsulate my own experience – a summary of the contents here:

    Gives me names for what is going on. My personal philosophy, and the one natural to a numismatist, Smith calls the “Curiosus”. The philosophies he worries about are the “Mandarin” and the “Courtier”.

    I do not want to get at cross purposes with Orfew. These days when I google-search for academic purposes I restrict the search to “books” - so mostly to tenured academics. I do this because the popular general opinions of journalists and the general public readership are so often hopelessly misguided. But looking back in time – how did that come about? What happened to the world in which an independent guy who maintained trams – W H Valentine – had the confidence in his critical thinking skills to deploy them in cutting edge numismatics? Maybe its not that tenured academic work has improved, but rather - that independent critical thinking in the general public has retreated?

    This seems to me particularly so in connection with numismatics, where the collector “Curiosus” is being driven out by the “Mandarins” and the “Courtiers” far too often found, I judge, in professional archaeology. I hope Orfew at least will read the summary I link to, so as properly to understand what my specific criticisms are.

    Rob T
  19. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    Not to get into politics, but LOL. Maybe that’s the case for those with an IQ above 115.
  20. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    I believe most of the problem lies in high schools promoting the mantra that if you don’t go to college, you will be a worthless scourge that will never be successful in anything. They don’t talk about the costs, debt, how much you would pay per month to pay it back, that you can’t default on it, etc. They also don’t tell you to research the job potentials in your chosen field and carefully consider the ROI. They also don’t talk about how community colleges can save you money before you pursue a degree at another college, nor do they talk about trade schools, where you can be paid to learn a valuable skill that would put you in a lucrative skilled position. If the options were better revealed and explained, then the number of students getting “useless” or “hobby” degrees would likely decrease substantially.

    The exponential rise in college costs and ease of getting student loans are also huge contributing problems.

    For me, I am studying aerospace engineering, have relevant work in my field, have much practical knowledge about my field, have a clear idea of what I want to do, and have no student debt holding me back. I graduate in December and pretty much have a job lined up starting in January. Now I am in the minority and consider myself extremely fortunate to be in my position, but I am example that being in such a position is completely possible if you put in the work and try to soak up as much as possible.
  21. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    What a thoughtful and engaging post. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to this topic with such an interesting analysis. There is much in what you say. I believe that the current commercial focus of universities has driven out many as myself who would associate themselves with the figure of the Curiosus. When I began university I just wanted to learn. I started with a degree in English literature. This experience taught me to organize my thoughts, to analyse material, and to write in a critical way. This degree was perfect for the curiosus. It was truly about the roots of philosophy as the "love of wisdom". This is not a love of knowledge at all, but instead a desire to seek out interesting and important ideas that address the questions "who are we" and "Why are we". I cannot tell you how many years of enjoyment I received from digging in to the poetry of Keats or the wild raucous humour of Chaucer. What an absolute revelation it was to read sonnets like "When I have fears" or to laugh along with Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales. Why are these important? They are so because they tell a small piece of the story of humanity.

    When I look at the university today I see the humanities being cut and disparaged. Many people complain that universities do not prepare you for a job. In many ways universities have become diploma mills. This is a backwards way of thinking in my opinion. Instead of serving the needs of humanity to understand itself the university serves the base needs of a culture that is not interested in self examination, but only in the proliferation of canned and utilitarian information. This is unfortunately self defeating. If the university does not critically examine the purpose behind the education they deliver, how can it be expected that the students who graduate will be able to do so?

    Too often the university lives in fear of its lack of relevance to the modern world. This fear drives it in panic to serve the needs of the general population. This is a problem. What should the university serve the general needs? I see way too many programs added to the curricula whose aim is to attract students and therefore revenue. Let us also not forget the pernicious nature of some faculty whose purpose is not to examine wisdom and find better questions, but is instead to build their career with no thought as to the sacred trust that should exist between faculty and students.

    However, not all is lost. There are still those among us who believe that our mission is to prod, disturb, upset entrenched ideas, and to install this intellectual trouble making in our students. A friend of mine who taught languages for over 30 years said this to me: When students come to university they want to buy a pair of shoes. The thoughtful educator provides the leather the laces and the soles and says "Make your own shoes". In other words it should be about independent thought and action and not about parroting the notions one learns in class. However, today society is not interested in independent thought but is instead obsessed with conformity instead. In my view universities should be examining this conformity and criticizing it instead of perpetuating it.

    A friend of mine summed it up very well. He said that studying in a university should be about "learning while wandering around". I love this, and it perfectly expresses my ideals. Rather than a straight line between any piece of information and a conclusion, or between a degree and a job we should embrace intellectual wandering. there is a good reason for this. Intellectual wandering has led us many important discoveries affecting the human race.

    For many years I attended a lunch group with colleagues from many different backgrounds and disciplines. People came and went but there was always a core group. These were profs from the arts, business, sciences, and other faculties. It was a true pleasure to get together with these people. These were not high ego people slavishly tied to their career progression, but instead were all thoughtful individuals who loved learning and lived this every day.The conversations were fascinating and generated many original ideas. These people perfectly fulfill the role of the Curioso.

    While there are some serious problems with the university, I do not believe the failure to prepare students for jobs is one of them. In fact I think that the focus on jobs robs us of intellectual curiosity and forces us all to fit a mold rather than to examine the purpose of the mold in the first place. Conformity to human needs such as employment have dimmed the purpose of a university. There are other important needs and one of these is critical self examination. Are universities perfect? No, not at all. However, as long as the universities contain curious people there is still hope.

    My sincere thanks to @EWC3 for the stimulating and challenging post.
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