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Required reading in college

If you are now paying student loans for an education that wasn't right for you, you have people like me to blame. I wish I could have said something then, but I couldn't. By law. And if you weren't sure if your education was putting you on the correct career path, rest assured that I could see it. It had to do with required reading.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old guy, when I was in college you were told in no uncertain terms that a particular educational direction was just not for you. Not very nice, but it was kind'a like telling someone who was five feet tall that they needn't waste their time preparing for a career in professional basketball. But that all changed by the 1990s.

When I started teaching college, in the late 1990s, it had become literally illegal to tell students "just give it up - you're no good at this, and besides, you don't even like it". The school would have been liable to lawsuits, there was even talk of personal liability for the teacher. It seemed a strange rule, but I knew that I had to follow it in order to keep my job as a teacher. This type of encouragement is known as persistence, which is the exact opposite of attrition. In other words, teachers encouraged students to stay, instead of "weeding out" those who should go.

Anyway, the most difficult task for me was to find ways to get students to do the required reading. This represented, unfortunately, the vast majority of students. I had to find ways to get them to go get the book, to open the book, to read the book. So, if someone has to find clever ways to get you to show some interest in the career path that supposedly had chosen, believe me, there is something wrong with your decision.

On the flip side, the students who had made the correct choice for their education and career path needed no such encouragement. They not only got the required book for the class and read the assignments, they read the whole thing. Many brought in other books that had caught their eye. There are a lot of great books about Photoshop that I had never seen! Went and got a few myself.