I recently finished a semester at our local community college where I took prerequisites for their nursing program. I was 33 taking 13 hours of classes in this bastion of hopium, wishful thinking, and just plan reality distorting dysplagia that is American higher education...or whatever the hell it's called these days. My classes were Anatomy and Physiology 2, Medical Terminology, Probability and Statistics, and Compter Science 101, and each class had it's own brand of incompetence, egomegaly superhero professors, and creative academic bullshit as required reading. I'll be taking you on a quick tour of what economically accessible higher education looks like in America in 2013 in the following expose.
I'll start with CPT 101 (computer science) since it represented the absolute pinnacle of what a pointless waste of brain cells college has become. The first class our instructor told us that she was only going to be our instructor for a couple of classes. Apparently she was going to be teaching at the community college in the next town and couldn't be bothered with us. The first three classes involved a pre-digital literacy test followed by me spending time online at the doomsteaddiner due to the fact that there was nothing for me to pay attention to. When our next instructor arrived it got interesting. She had the worse case of ADD I've ever seen, and we got to be subjected to it on the overhead whenever she could be bothered with actually showing up to class. 10 minutes late was early for this magnificent specimen of a 21st century college professor. A month goes by and there hasn't been so much as one powerpoint presentation about what the internet is, or what a computer is, or what Microsoft is...nothing. Just more doomsteaddiner surfing.
One day, the entire class and I were still sitting on the floor in the hall, 15 minutes after class had started, with no instructor. Usually this wasn't a problem because we'd all just go in the room and get online to do what we no doubt would all probably be doing anyways if we were at home...only not getting college credit for it, except this day the class room door was locked. At any rate, I decided, all at once, that I didn't go to war and drop bombs on Afghanistan so that I could sit on the floor in a hallway waiting on some incompetent twit to get her drunk ass out of bed to come spread her ADD around in an academic setting. I got up, walked to the next classroom, opened the door, and grabbed a random professor by the neck and said "hey bub, how bout opening our classroom door so that we can get up off the damn hallway floor?" That set a chain of events in motion that I was sure would get the ball rolling in our classroom. The head of the department ended up in our classroom that day. Our instructor rolled in 20 minutes late and then disappeared with the head of the department. The next class...there our Miss Incompetent was, on time and in class ready to spread her ADD around on the overhead in the name of computer science. I was thrilled that the head of the department apparently found it reasonable to put her back into position as the professor seeing as how she had taught nothing and been on time once all semester.
She was on time for the next two classes before she got back to her usual ways. One day, 18 minutes after class had started, still instructorless, I decided to check my school email. That's when I noticed that she had just sent us an email stating that she was still in court and class had been canceled for the day. WTF I thought to myself. A couple of weeks later and she decides to assign us a project for Microsoft Access after we had already taken the Access chapter exam (having not been taught anything about it in class mind you). I got pissed off about the fact, as did others, and we began making a general consensus ruckus about what an outrage it all was. This resulted in the head of the department getting involved again.
This time she decided to shit can Miss Incompetent. We had three classes left of the semester at this point. Our replacement professor, and apparently second in command of the department, took over at this point. The first class was a powerpoint presentation on how awesome her 21 year old son was. He was a black homosexual who had moved from the Upstate of SC to Hollywood where he was pursuing a career as an actor. We got to see his facebook page and a bunch of head shots of him. Apparently he is a great and sweet man who bagged a roll as the local retard who throws rocks at Van Diesel who's babysitting the neighbors kids or some stupid shit. He got about a minute on screen and shouted some retard slogan. Captain second in command of the computer department assured us that her son was destined for great things on the silver screen and then dismissed us from class. This was the best the school could cough up for the last couple of classes.
Next I'll cover the only online class I took, Medical Terminology. This was the only class that I took that wasn't a requirement. Of course, I was taking it because I was told by my guidance counselor that it was a mandatory prereq. As an aside, my overly competent guidance counselor had a degree in business administration. Apparently the days of guidance counselors having some psychology back ground are over. Let there be no mistake about it, this is a business and nothing more. My Medical Terminology proctor was a successful black lady in her late 30's. She was a doctor, of chiropractics, and had an ego that was full of dead air, but full of itself nonetheless. I found myself in her office, for a scheduled meet and greet, to help me figure out the schools online class software. There were glitches that I couldn't figure out. She hemmed and hawed and ultimately produced no help for me because she simply did not know the answer to my questions. She didn't have time to deal with an "online" student. She also had no idea that her head was full of hot air that had just been blown up her ass by some other academic credential dispensing goon.
At one point I had a project due that involved reading a professional medical journal entry of my choosing, writing a 250 word synopsis of it, and defining ten medical terms. The instructions on how to submit this intolerably difficult academic exercise set a new precedence in vaguery. We were supposed to submit a "copy of the professional journal entry used," and it couldn't be the same article that any of the other students used in the class. How we were to know what articles the other students were using was never disclosed. At any rate, I sent her a copy of the url to the article as well as documented it in the appropriate MLA format in the bibliography and called it good. A couple of weeks later I noticed that I had been given a zero on the project because I did not submit a copy of the article, only a link as well as MLA citation (which tells you everything you could possibly want to know about the god damned article's location and point of origin). I emailed her a kind WTF, and how do I submit a copy of the article so that I can get credit for the work that I did? She emailed me back with a one liner that said "go to the schools tech department to get help" if I couldn't figure it out. She didn't have time to deal with it, and at any rate she didn't give two shits about my grade.
This was the only class where an "A" was a 94, and so it was the only class that was keeping my GPA below a 4.0. The one class that wasn't mandatory for me to take. The other three classes an "A" was a 90 or above. The other gripe I had with the class is that we were required to pay 50 bucks for online software that we never used. The good and learn-ed doctor explained to me that the company responsible for the online material stated that we would be required to enter an access code for the class at some point. Doctor Learn-ed couldn't tell me when that day would be, but she assured me that one day I would log onto the site and be required to insert that 50 dollar line of random numbers. I never had to insert that magic number.
Anatomy and Physiology 2 was ruled over by another Doctor who believed that the schools standard for Anatomy should be the same as Harvards, or any other Ivy league school for that matter. He liked pointing out how our required text book was wrong on every occasion where it was wrong. I learned quickly that studying the required text book was a waste of my time. After the first test I threw my 300 dollar text book aside and never opened it again (of course I'm not a sucker, so I bought it for 120 off ebay rather than at the schools usury store). Doctor Anatomy was at least competent and very knowledgeable, albeit under the delusion that we were here to learn. His class was the most difficult college class I've had in my life. I had to study about 20 hours to make an "A" on any of his exams and even then it wasn't guaranteed that I would make an "A". His anatomy exams were over 100 questions of him pointing to various foramens, notches, orifices, and meatuses while we recalled the overly descriptive Latin and Greek words. I made five "A's" two "B's" and one "F" and made an "A" on the final. My final letter grade was a "B." The only "B" I made for the semester. I thought it was bullshit that one bad test, weighted the same as all the rest, brought my grade down to a "B."
After class one day I got into a conversation with Dr. Ivy League about the foundations of science. Back in the 70's and 80's he was involved in doing research on kidney function for a large study that was being done at a large university. His particular study was about a specific symporter in the loop of Henle, which is a feature of the kidney that allows us to make concentrated urine. It's impossible to see the loop of Henle under a slide because it's too long. You can only see sections of it. However, there is a specific rat who's Loop of Henle can be seen microscopically, and this rat is responsible for the majority of what we know about the Loop of Henle (as well as other kidney physiology). Dr. Ivy League was actually studying human kidney tissue in the lab, and he discovered a reaction that was different from the rat's in the human kidney tissue. It was repeatable, and he could prove that the function was different. The dude responsible for the research at the university told Dr. Ivy league, when presented with this new information that had come to light, that it mattered not what the microscope was repeatedly saying about human kidney physiology. What mattered was what the official line said.
Now, Dr. Ivy League could prove that what the official line was saying was now wrong. He was told that he would remove this from his report and replace it with the rat physiology. He refused. This put an end to his research in histology and therefore an end to his membership in academia. No research, no books, no tenure for you. 20 year's later, after billing pharmaceutical companies 500 dollars an hour to look at shit under a microscope as an independent contractor, and he was teaching at a local community college to pay the bills. Academia chewed him up and spit him out because he was concerned about what the microscope had to say about reality. He was concerned about the stated goals of science that feature illuminating mankind about reality. Science on the other hand, is not really concerned with reality, it's concerned with the same thing the rest of BAU is concerned with...money. So the official line is that rat kidneys are mamallian, just like ours, and so they are close enough. And since they are close enough we can assume that they are indeed the same, and so base our allopathic treatment of human kidneys on the physiology of rats. Pharmaceuticals anyone?
Finally there was Probability and Statistics. I was actually impressed with this classes professor. She was an astute, competent, and beautiful teacher of math. She made the concepts accessible and easy to manage. The class featured a Promethean, which is a huge screen on the wall that she could write on. I didn't have to take notes because her notes were saved and made available to us online. This allowed me to pay complete attention to her as she taught. I found it interesting to learn how the man manipulates numbers to make reality say whatever he wants it to. That is essentially what "Probability and Statistics" is about. I had questions about the theoretical aspects of the class because they seemed to be a bit presumptuous at times. I smelled bull shit with the official theories that we were to take for granted were true. However, I'm not mathematically inclined, and being 33 I no longer give a shit. I understand that it's not about learning, or higher education, it's about jumping through hoops to arrive as a Registered Nurse so that I can make money.
Now I have Microbiology left to take during the summer session. After Microbiology I'll have met all of the requirements and will be applying to nursing school this fall. I fully expect nursing school to be about the same bullshit that I just spent the last semester sifting through. Just a bunch of shit that I'm to commit to memory so that I can promptly forget it once I'm in the clinical setting. After all, how much shit do I need to know to do what a doctor tells me to do? I've already been a medic for eight years. I've been in tough medical situations with lives depending on my actions and no doctor to tell me what to do. You can't teach competence. All that I'm doing in college is plugging a hole that's in place to help with the business of college. I'm required to learn about how science doesn't give a shit about reality, and how to sit in a computer class surfing the net, and how to manipulate reality with numbers; and all of this is somehow going to make me a better murse. I'm pretty sure I can do what a doctor tells me to do now...without all of the required bullshit and time wasted. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's what I did in high school, when the doctor cradled my balls in his hand and asked me to turn my head and cough.