UnCollege? Good Luck Getting An Interview With That On Your Resume

All of this “un” stuff is getting a little out of hand.  Unlearning, unschooling, unteaching, unstudents, and now uncollege.  I guess we can blame Yoda for all of this.  When he first said that we have to unlearn what we have learned, no one felt like correcting him.  Technically, there is a word for unlearn – it is called forgetting.  But he was not even human, so I guess we cave him a break.

And at least unlearning is grammatically correct.

Now a “disgruntled” college student has started UnCollege.  Which might be a good idea, except that most employers won’t even give a second look to a resume with something so grammatically incorrect on it. And UnCollege is all about getting a job – but more on that later.

I am all for people learning outside of the college box.  There is great value in real life experience, trade schools, apprenticeships, and other things like that.  College is not for everyone.

The problem I have with UnCollege is this statement: “In other words, he spent his time in class thinking to himself, Why do I need to know this?”

Why do you not need to know it?  Is knowledge only useful if you use it someday?  This is one of the greatest misunderstandings the anti-college crowd out there has: if it won’t get me a job, it is useless.  Many people know that there is great value in getting an education, even if it never earns you a dollar.  But our society is constantly setting up colleges to be one thing: 4 year long job training fairs.

The reason colleges are failing in some people’s eyes has nothing to do with the colleges doing anything wrong, but in that they are being expected to do things they never were designed to do.  And colleges themselves don’t help when they market themselves the wrong way.

Also, it is pretty arrogant to ask “when am I ever gonna use this?”  How in the world can anybody even try to answer this? Pull out a crystal ball? No one can ever know when you are going to use anything.  No one can predict the future. People can try to answer when and why you will need to know something, but there is no way for them to know that for sure.  Let’s be real here: people start asking why they have to learn something once they get lazy and don’t want to work at something.

In college I took a class in invertebrate paleontology.  I have not used it since then.  Was it a waste of time? Nope. Mainly because most everyone reading this has to Google those words to find out what they mean and I don’t.  Who cares if it ever helps me get a job?  It is knowledge.

Now, if I went out and told people I was an expert in invertebrate paleontology, how would you know I was telling the truth?  The UnCollege way is me saying I learned enough, so there.  The real college way is to look at my transcript and see I only had one class – so I do not qualify as an expert.  Which way is the more realistic?

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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