a slight waver in confidence

A recent piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education contained this quote from Paul Valéry. Just what I wanted to read now that I’m beginning to look into my school options in earnest…

“Let us confess, the real object of education is the diploma. I never hesitate to declare that the diploma is the deadly enemy of culture. As diplomas have become more important in our lives (and their importance has done nothing but grow as a result of economic conditions), the less has education had any real effect… the aim of education no longer being the development of the mind but the acquisition of the diploma, the required minimum becomes the goal of study.”

To be fair, these are many of my own opinions (except more eloquently expressed, of course), but it still gave me pause…


3 thoughts on “a slight waver in confidence

  1. It’s true, yes. Countless jobs simply want to see your diploma, regardless of how much you cultivated your mind over four (to eight) years of study. This is how society and the workforce views college now that it has become ostensibly obligatory.

    Of course, you choose to do what you want with an education. I know it sounds trite, but it’s your education to either take advantage of, or coast along on.

    Your slight waver in confidence is similar to the annoyance I was frequently confronted with my freshman year. Please, let me use a tangible representation to express my frustration. My roommate had a poster, along with at least three other students on my floor, that contained the image of a gorgeous sunset shining over a mansion on the beach and a five door garage with five sports cars sticking their heads out. The text on the poster read “Justification for Higher Education.”

    Transfer application filed and accepted. I’m much, much happier now.

  2. I tend to agree with this, as I’m sure you know. I’ve blatantly tried to wade through my education at my own pace – at least, that’s what I tell myself to excuse the horrifying way I’ve neglected it. :)

  3. I’m quite relived law school didn’t work out for me in the end; obviously, I wanted to go for all the wrong reasons (means to an end, even if I did plan to use it for human rights/int’l issues.)


    (I plan to respond to your letter soon, haven’t forgotten!)

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