Gut Rumbles

March 01, 2005


I've been over this ground many times before with friends of mine who never finished college. Or those who DID finish, but never took advantage of what was offered them. Yes, I have a degree in ENGLISH LITERATURE. And yes, I ended up working for 24 years as a supervisor in a chemical plant. What else are you going to do with a degree in English Lit except become a teacher?

I'll tell you what my degree did for me. It taught me to read and write as an articulate human being. I did a LOT of communication via email and letters during my career. When you "speak" to people with whom you'll probably never meet in person, what you inscribe on paper is the only impression they'll ever have of you. You can come across as a complete idiot or someone worthy of trust, and it's all based on your words. I could come across as something other than a complete idiot.

My degree impressed my bosses. I probably gained a few promotions at work because I proved that I could finish what I started, even if it was a mere liberal arts degree.

I also learned that I could teach myself ANYTHING by reading. I have degrees and certificates all stored in a box somewhere to prove that I am certified as a firefighter, a chemical Haz-Mat Incident Commander, a Confined Space Rescue expert, a Licensed ASME Boiler Technician, a Certified Medical First Responder, a Six Sigma Green Belt, a QRO for burning waste-heat furnaces, DOT Haz-Chem shipping certifications, a genuine, gold-embossed sheepskin from the Philip Crosby College of Quality and I forget what all else. But I've got a stack of that shit.

And I wouldn't have ANY of that without my pissy little liberal arts degree in English Literature from Armstrong State College.

Steve, you can bite my Cracker ass on this one. My education paid for itself many times over again.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go write a book report for me.

Posted by: Steve H. on March 1, 2005 07:43 PM

Also, your trackback was sandwiched between "gay sex stories" and "free animal sex videos."

Posted by: Steve H. on March 1, 2005 07:44 PM

That's where it belonged, didn't it?

Posted by: Acidman on March 1, 2005 07:52 PM

Mes freres. I gotcha both beat. I have a degree in French. Vraiment. Gimme a couple of months and I could speak it again.

Actually, on my very first post-college interview my soon-to-be boss asked me-what was my greatest accomplishment during the 4 years. I replied, "Finishing the degree successfully, while working and saving money (and partying rather successfully, tho I didn't mention that)."

If I had it to do again I'd get a degree in art or I'd get a degree in computer shit or math (but I would have had to re-take stuff I'd forgotten). Or maybe international relations. Or maybe integrated bullshit. Who knows.

The four year experience IS, indeed, worth something all on its own. If you can navigate it and get out and go to work (at an insurance company, no less, back in '74 as a claim adjuster-one of the few women and I climbed roofs during catastrophe claim time) and not weigh on the rest of the world for awhile, your degree is moot. Unless you've obviously specialized, blah blah blah.

Oh. I woulda majored in English if I'd had a few more hours. I just took French by default, since I was too lazy to continue with the Russian and Serbo Croatian. If I'd only known...

Posted by: Kim on March 1, 2005 08:10 PM

Conned my way through high school, got kicked outta college 3 times. I am now on the school board signing dipolmas and own a consulting business. My wife is a doctor and my kid is confused. Not sure what college does for everyone but its good for some people.

Posted by: Tom S on March 1, 2005 08:19 PM

Here is what a Mech. Engineering degree does for you.
1. You get the scientific method beat into your brain.
2. You learn to use it to solve real problems.

And, then you spend the rest of your life watching and listening to people make emotional decisions and fuck things up.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on March 1, 2005 09:34 PM

Philip Crosby College of Quality. Wow, that brings back some memories. In 1994 I went to the Management/Executive College and Quality Education System (for the facilitator) courses in Deerfield, IL. How could that have been over ten years ago? Time flies.

Yes, the four absolutes and fourteen steps of quality management. Because I trained others I'll probably remember those for the rest of my life.

Posted by: Bruce on March 2, 2005 12:07 AM

Jesus, Grapenuts, you bragging about a majoring in Eng. Lit.? Most of the pansies in my university who couldn't do shit majored in that. Usually meant they were too dumb to study much else. Did you graduate? I'd like to see those transcripts. Any body who boasts as much as you do is usually suspect. It's a fact.

Posted by: Joe on March 2, 2005 08:47 AM

What an interesting thread. My hat's off for anyone with a degree. Mine was in physics at UVa. Finished 11th in my class. Think that sounds good? Nope. That made me dead last. 11 out of 11. I really majored in beer and getting laid. I did well. There was no AIDs then. The most you had to worry about was a herpettte! It's a wonder I survived. I could not do it again, however.

Posted by: Ed on March 2, 2005 09:34 AM

From one English B.A. from a small liberal arts college to another, I say rock on Acidman. At least we can fucking write, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of business school graduates I've encountered on the job over the last 15 years.

Steve being a bit of an exception to the general rule that attorney's write like crap...


Posted by: catzmeow on March 2, 2005 09:34 AM

and now I've gone and buggered the apostrophe above, thus undermining the idea that I can write...

Posted by: catzmeow on March 2, 2005 09:35 AM

I believe that should be 'attornies". And, I'm not an English major!

Posted by: Joe on March 2, 2005 09:55 AM

I never did get my college degree but I'm often told that I'm a certified idiot. That should count for something, right?

Posted by: zonker on March 2, 2005 10:54 AM

He's just taking the point of view that complication is an artistic defect to its logical extreme. Otherwise, he's like most in the sciences, conceited and deficient in imagination.

Not that his criticisms don't apply to many in the liberal arts. Science majors are often frauds, as well, usually in the pursuit of rent-seeking or just plain old tyranny.

Posted by: Brett on March 2, 2005 01:44 PM

Wimpy liberal arts subjects are complicated?

I'll work on that imagination deficiency. That's always been a real problem for me.

Maybe if I had spent more time learning to parrot literature professors' canned opinions, I'd be more creative.

Posted by: Steve H. on March 2, 2005 02:11 PM

Steve, the trick is to keep them from realizing you're patronizing their tiny little minds by shoveling the shit right back into their coffee mugs.

Mastering that is pretty much the only place creativity has a chance in modern academia.

Posted by: McGehee on March 2, 2005 02:31 PM

There is an art to that. I got pretty good at it by the time I graduated. If you do it right, you can lead them right along, then tweak them at some point in the paper. This causes furious writing of notes in the margins, but still yields you a decent grade. :)

Posted by: Desert Cat on March 2, 2005 04:51 PM

My trouble was that by the time I was in actual danger of graduating I was approaching 30 and had just plain gotten sick and tired of some of the shit-for-brains idiots who were getting paid a damn sight more than I ever was to stand in front of us all and spout patent nonsense as if it was not only gospel, but they had personally been responsible for discovering how true it really was. Which of course it wasn't.

So I'm afraid my contempt for most of the professors responsible for my degree was not as easily concealed as it might have been. I think they just got tired of having me around and gave me the degree so I'd go away and bug somebody else.

Seems to have worked...

Posted by: McGehee on March 2, 2005 05:18 PM
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