Yeah, But If We Did This, We Couldn’t BS Our Way Through Life Nearly As Much

Filed under:Miscellaneous,Need a Good Editor?,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on August 13, 2008 @ 8:33 am

A plan for widespread certification rather than four-year degrees. It makes a lot of sense. I had a conversation not too long ago with an architect who went to a technical school rather than a university, and he talked about how the young college grads in his office struggle to keep their heads above water because their university courses hadn’t taught them about the building codes and laws they need to know to be licensed in their state.

No technical barriers stand in the way of evolving toward a system where certification tests would replace the BA. Hundreds of certification tests already exist, for everything from building code inspectors to advanced medical specialties. The problem is a shortage of tests that are nationally accepted, like the CPA exam.

It makes a lot of sense for editors. Though I doubt individual employers would stop testing individual candidates on their skills as they do now, at least they would know going in what skills those candidates are supposed to have, if they’re certified as having passed tests on the various style manuals, and could stop wasting their time testing everybody with a degree who thought editing looked easy enough for them to do.

Oh wait, except that’s how I got into editing myself. Well, no, not really–I focused on editing as what I really wanted to do, as opposed to what I studied in college, and I passed with flying colors the test my hiring manager gave me. But still, would my employer have looked twice at me under a certification system that I had not entered yet? A widespread system of certification would make it more difficult to change careers in that way, would make it much harder to apply for a new batch of jobs and see what shook out, but then editing is somewhat unique among professions in that it doesn’t necessarily require a specific degree or certification (like passing the bar, for example) but it does test you at the door. Perhaps it is one of very few professions that you can currently switch to relatively easily, as I did, and maybe for people wanting to switch to other professions, a certification system would actually make it easier, in potentially not having to go back to college before being able to switch.

At any rate, the point is well made about cutting through a lot of BS in the four-year system … and in life, as well, including BS like this:

Here’s the reality: Everyone in every occupation starts as an apprentice. Those who are good enough become journeymen. The best become master craftsmen. This is as true of business executives and history professors as of chefs and welders.

I wish that were true, but think back to college, think of that professor whose class you knew was bogus or lightweight. What’s he or she doing there? The dual-pronged BS of the college system: It confers degrees on people who might actually be ready for not much and promotes teachers who lead to the same result. A certification system would certainly require colleges to be more competitive outside the zone. That would be a good thing.

Via Hot Air headlines.

one comment so far »

  1. I’d get behind this!

    I’ve seen too many people waste tons of money on a useless eduation. I’ve also seen too many people that I could out do in half a second of the merest application supposedly with “more education” than me telling me how to do my job and if I did it their way the company would look like the morons they really are.

    I suppose however, that if this did become the mainstream way of doing things, unemployment would sky rocket because all those executive Peter Principle types wouldn’t be able to get jobs.

    And colleges and universities would pitch a fit, because all those students who extend their 4 year plans to 5 and 6 year plans because they are too busy partying and drinking beer to apply themselves would have to buckle down and actually learn something in order to pass their certification. Then they’d be much more likely to graduate on time and the schools would lose all that extra revenue.

    Besides, in my experience and from the information I’ve heard from others, the current baccalaureate degree system requires most students to expend most of their first two years on “under grad” studies that “round out” the education. Stuff like speech, psychology, sociology, english, math, history, foreign language, etc. Shouldn’t anyone with a decent SAT or ACT who passed high school already have these basics down? I think it’s just a way for colleges to grub for more revenue. If you are going to be a architect, sure math is important, but if you are going to be an english teacher, why do you need to take additional math or 2 years of Spanish? Why does an aspiring accountant need speech or sociology? Or an additional 2 years of english?

    It is also my experience, though admittedly limited, these “under grad” professors often are not the most qualified teachers themselves. Case in point, my college English 101 “professor” who admitted to the class that he was just teaching english to pick up some extra money until he could sit for the Bar. He’d take roll, hand out reading assigments and assign some kind of paper to write. Occasionally he’d “mix things up” and have the class break down into groups and go off to “dicuss” the reading assignement then disappear for large portions of the 3 hour class period. Of course once he was gone, most of the class would leave too, or just use the time to write next week’s paper. I never read a single page out of the english book we were required to buy, wrote all my papers the hour before class started (most of which were suspiciously similar to the kinds of papers we were required to write in my Junior and Senior High School English classes and I found myself wishing I’d kept them) and there was no final. I don’t think he even read more than the first page of most of my papers, a theory I started to test as the semester wore on. I got a B+ for the class. I probably would have gotten an A but I blew off about half the classes.

    I also remember being required to pass a certain number of classes over and above my “major track requirements.” I got college credit toward my degree in Nutrition for things like Science Fiction Literature. The teacher tried to make the class seem like a serious heavy weight class, but after passing things like Advanced Theory of Nutrition and Metabolism, Human Diseases and Physiology and Anatomy it wasn’t much of a challenge. I knew my particular field of study _did_ already require certification to practice nutrition so I worked hard and tried to make sure all my course work counted. Had there been no certification to pass perhaps I would have loaded up on more fluff classes too.

    Can anyone tell I have little faith the educational system?

    Anyway, I ended up not enjoying a career in Nutrition and have long struggled with the idea of whether to dump an obscene amount of money and time into returning to school. If there was a certification program that one could study for on their own and maybe take a few key classes before sitting the exam for a new career certification I’d be all over it.

    Comment by Cole — August 14, 2008 @ 6:45 am

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