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What I think is interesting to ponder, is much of the generational difference discussed in this diary that is a response to changing living conditions. Now, I know Sweden better then the rest of the world, but I do know that Sweden since abandoning full employment has pushed up the age of real adulthood significantly. Age of mother for first child has gone from low 20ies to 29 in just two decades. Age of permanently leaving home is increasing continously. This of course is related to unemployment, and temporary employment forms that in practise leave you vulnerable and less protected by a welfare system that is still built on the premise that everyone has a regular employment.
So, in a situation where society tells you that you will not be able to be a real adult until you push 30, what can one do?
khanacademy, anyone? MIT Online courses? Wikipedia?
Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
It's really hard to learn the material, for one thing. Reading a history book or a calculus book by yourself is not at all the same as taking a class with a teacher. But there are free online classes with teachers if you have sufficient motivation.
But in any case if you don't have the official degree then you're still not in a good situation. Part of schooling is the socialization that goes along with it--living away from home in a dormitory, doing your own homework, not getting distracted--these are tests that come along with formal schooling. And then when you've proven that you can grind out a ten page paper regurgitating what the professor said, then you have been sufficiently lobotomized to work in the real world. That's what the degree paper shows.
They miss the point, of course. The whole thing about Harvard and the other Ivy League schools (and I assume similarly prestigious schools in other countries) is that you make contacts that will be valuable in later life. You might not learn much economics, but having a room-mate who is destined to be the Secretary of the Treasury in 30 years' time is a huge advantage.
And the problem for the foreign students is that they are, well, foreign. To fit in at Harvard/Yale/Princeton/etc. you need to have gone to the right prep school first. And have gone to the right church, and been in the right yacht club as a young tyke. The Chatham Yacht Club on Cape Cod is not a bad place to start... You will have of course arranged to have a grandfather on the nomination committee...
The whole thing about Harvard and the other Ivy League schools (and I assume similarly prestigious schools in other countries) is that you make contacts that will be valuable in later life.
The University of Colorado, for example, gets the bulk of its funding from out of state tuition which is almost as expensive as an Ivy. They are gradually turning the big state colleges into private schools.
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