DeLoggio Achievement Program

Preparation for and Selection of College and Professional Programs

Choosing Your Program of Study

 

Graduating Early

What to Study? When? Why?

There are two major theories of advanced education, and the divide between them is as great as the Civil War. In fact, the divide between them began during the Civil War.
Traditionally, education beyond "learning your letters" and "learning your figures." – reading and arithmetic – was what we now consider a liberal arts education. A learned person read philosophy, history, classic literature, and the newspaper for current events.

The Civil War was fought during the Industrial Revolution; in fact, one of the earliest inventions of the Industrial Revolution, Eli Whitney's cotton gin, was one of the causes of the Civil War. [The cotton gin made cotton production, and therefore slavery, profitable again.] The North wanted to get along with its Industrial Revolution, and was not happy with all the government's revenues going towards the war. In order to reward states that remained loyal to the Union, Abraham Lincoln gave land – acreage proportional to population – to every state in the Union, to use to build schools of higher education for the study of science, technology, agriculture, and other useful arts.

That divide between a liberal arts education and a technical education continues to this day. What used to be called "A & T" or "A & M" is now called "STEM." The basic philosophy of the STEM system is that you go to school to learn a practical skill – usually foretold by the question, "what do you want to be?" Students of liberal arts don't go to school to "be" something; they go to school to learn, to think, to analyze.

In times of economic crisis or scarcity of jobs, people go to school in order to get a job, and the STEM subjects proliferate. For the wealthy people, the ruling class, the academics, college exists in order to give you a knowledge of the history and philosophy of the world, so that you can govern, amass fortunes, and remain a member of the elite. Of course, since these two classes are much more fluid in the United States than in some other countries, you will find people from lower socioeconomic groups entering liberal arts colleges, and you will find the science of the ruling class studying stem subjects. But those people who cross over will spend a lot of time explaining why they chose to study that?

This great divide exhibits itself in choice of school, major, and individual classes. At the high school level, students have to choose between AP, IB, or Honors programs. At the college level, people will choose majors based on what they think they need for the job or for their next level of education. What they think, or what they've been told, is almost always wrong.
This section of our website will answer these difficult questions, but the answers can only be generalities; as education changes, as the job market changes, and as individual schools change their philosophies, these answers will necessarily vary. So read them with an understanding that in 2020, the United States stands on a cusp in the global economy, and that you might need to read them through a slightly different filter in a few years.


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