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BA 9001 Certification

This post was written on Friday, January 20th, 2006 around 5 PM.
   Although I'm glad the topics here haven't focused too much on the original theme, this website is still maintained by The Extinguished Scholar and still has an appropriate category for a post on Bachelor's Degrees. Or at least my Bachelor's Degree....
   First, the good side: it looks like I may still be able to graduate this spring, despite my generally poor academics. This will open up a world of opportunity, as there seem to be few companies around where policy still allows the time and concern necessary to look beyond the résumé. Soon I will be set for an unimpeded path up the corporate ladder, having all it takes to make the world care again.
   But then, my concern. This semester, seemingly my last chance to make serious progress on useful skills, is basically booked full with homework and other necessary business. I can, and all but need to, graduate with a slip of paper that says: "This guy is willing to stick with something he dislikes. He's been trained to read all the directions first, and probably has served some time on group projects. He's learned to answer the questions you assign, at least if the results are being monitored for inclusion in his permanent record." But I am nervous that once I am hired, I will not be skilled enough at any specific craft - be that designing, fixing, evaluating or selling - to be of much service anywhere. More than that, it seems that the best road to a successful school day is not to get wrestle personally with the subject matter, but to stay awake in class and then bank on the usual predictable assignments and evaluations.
   Accounting fraud charges take down corporations, medicines are recalled in light of ugly side effects, serious software security holes get exploited, space shuttles turn to smoke - and grown-ups are shocked! What happened? How could that have gone wrong? Who would allow such a thing to happen??!! Their questions could be answered to a certain extent by some simple research into two areas. First, study high schoolers. Don't study the answers they give when asked profound questions about their lives and their future. The "right" answers to those questions are obvious. Study what the high schoolers talk about with each other, in the hallways and locker rooms.
   Then study college students. Unfortunately, the notes taken might not be much different. By no means is every student like what I am about to describe, and I hope that not even a majority fall under this accusation. Yet too many college "students" still could care less about the class material, still are willing to copy one anothers' assignments, are still proud of how much fluff they can get away with in their essays, still overly concerned about their popularity, still content to spend their spare time in depravity and still just along for the ride. If that much didn't change in the summer between high school and the university, how much can change in the week between moving out of student housing and starting their real jobs?
   I myself have a lot of growing up to do. I got a bit jealous today when I read about an aged computer scientist referred to as "the world's best-educated three-year-old" on account of his untempered lifelong pursuit of all interestes. I didn't have that luxury during the last week, as I tried to be responsible to those around me while keeping up with all the little school assignments. I have to learn how to behave, stick with things and take instruction. But I don't want to learn to just shred whatever I'm told to shred. I don't want to just launch whatever my boss's boss's boss wants to launch. I can't hard-sell whatever helps the stock brokers, or discover only what I'm told to look for.
   Assignments seem rote, lectures seem sort of slow, expectations are often low. Student capabilities range greatly, but somehow all but the most distracted keep up. Even when my textbooks are open, I find myself focusing too long on one interesting detail, instead of the ten chapter questions. This often has left me scrambling to stay in comformance with the accredited graduate manufacturing process. I'm confused as to how this system is working to prepare me for that happy "lifetime of learning". I'm still working to earn my Golden Ticket, but what will I do if I find a few years down the road that mine was made of polished brass to keep up with production?
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