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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Brooks Photography School Closing: Shattered Dreams
Old 08-21-2016   #1
CameraQuest
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Brooks Photography School Closing: Shattered Dreams

Brooks Institute was one of the most famous photography schools in the US, established over 70 years ago. Its closure was announced August 12, 2016 due to ever stringent education regulations - leaving unprepared students and employees in an unforeseen limbo.

Will students be able to complete their studies and get degrees at other institutions any time soon?
What other schools will accept their transfer credits? How worthwhile is a degree or credits from a closed school?
Its a sad situation. Time will tell.

the students side is well described here
http://www.vcstar.com/news/local/ven...390738841.html

the business side, the difficulties
http://www.vcstar.com/news/local/ven...390738451.html

closing annoucement
https://www.brooks.edu/brooks-institute-to-close/

wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooks_Institute
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Old 08-21-2016   #2
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It's becoming harder and harder to compete with the change in education. Information is accessible in a way like never before. I'm not saying that you can learn everything you might need to know from the interwebs, but times are a'changin.
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Old 08-21-2016   #3
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Photography (and art schools in general) have had a hard time in recent years - the market for professional photographers has changed drastically and makes the prospect of a dedicated degree program an expensive proposition with less guarantee of being able to make it pay for itself.

It is sad to lose an institution like Brooks, but the writing has been on the wall for some time.
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Old 08-21-2016   #4
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The writing has been on the walls so to say since 1999 when the Brooks Institute of Photography was sold by Ernest H. Brooks, Jr. to Career Education Corporation (CEC), which is a for-profit higher education corporation and they sold off the fantastic campus they had in Santa Barbara and moved to Ventura. The add to it they they sold off again 2015 to another For Profit organization.
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Old 08-21-2016   #5
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I recall listening to a podcast from current Brooks students talk about the current Ventura Campus didn't even have a dark room. I know it's sort of dated technology, but it's a photography school. It surprised me for sure.
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Old 08-21-2016   #6
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It's sad, for profit has been under attack when they started to be bought up by financial types who try to generate as much profit as possible.

I have teaching for a For-Profit Institution that is shrinking. My campus (location) stopped admitting new students a couple semisters ago. Rather than closing the doors, we are stay open till all the students have had a chance to complete their course of study. They drop below full time, no guarantees replacement classes will be available.

Most of the instructors are adjunct (part time) but we all see what's coming. No more drafting, one more semester for electrical engineering types, about the same for software development, perhaps two. I've got two kids that stuck it out in Server Opperations and Support that I think will be the last two out the door.

Education for profit isn't bad, but the folks who are only there for a profit are not the sharpest tools in the shed. The crew that took us over brought in some high pressure sales types that promised the world to students. Happened at a lot of other instructions too.

Very sad the folks at the helm of Brooks are taking the easy way out. Sounds like the instructors are stepping up to help as best they can.

Thanks for sharing Mr S, hope you're feeling better.

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Old 08-21-2016   #7
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It is a remarkably bad situation in how they went about this closure...the students, what a terrible hand to be dealt.

Truly a shame such a fine institution ended up this way.
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Old 08-21-2016   #8
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As I recall (and as far as I can see from a quick web-search) they had no regional accreditation, meaning that credits could only be transferred on a case-by-case basis, if then. I used to live near Santa Barbara from 1987 to 1992 and visited Brooks on a number of occasions. I was underwhelmed: I never felt or saw any "buzz" there, though maybe I was just unlucky on the few occasions I took a look around. Like many photography colleges, it was part professional training school and part finishing school for the well to do.

Although I feel deeply sorry for the students, who have been unforgivably let down, it looked to me even 25 years ago as if Brooks was living on borrowed time.

Incidentally, what were these "government regulations"? Again, to the casual observer it looked as if the owners quit because they weren't very good at running a photography school.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-21-2016   #9
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As I recall (and as far as I can see from a quick web-search) they had no regional accreditation, meaning that credits could only be transferred on a case-by-case basis, if then. I used to live near Santa Barbara from 1987 to 1992 and visited Brooks on a number of occasions. I was underwhelmed: I never felt or saw any "buzz" there, though maybe I was just unlucky on the few occasions I took a look around. Like many photography colleges, it was part professional training school and part finishing school for the well to do.

Although I feel deeply sorry for the students, who have been unforgivably let down, it looked to me even 25 years ago as if Brooks was living on borrowed time.

Incidentally, what were these "government regulations"? Again, to the casual observer it looked as if the owners quit because they weren't very good at running a photography school.

Cheers,

R.

The government here has been cracking down of for-profit schools that charge outrageously high tuition for very low-quality education. Most for-profit school degrees are worthless in the job market because many employers just plain won't hire people who went to those schools, and the credits the students earn won't transfer to real colleges and universities because of the poor quality of the classes at the for-profits.

There are a couple of these for profit 'colleges' in Fort Wayne. When I was a high school teacher, we always advised our kids who wanted to go to college in Fort Wayne to go to Indiana University, Purdue University, or Ivy Tech. These are all state-supported colleges that have campuses in Fort Wayne. They provide an excellent education at a very, very low cost. The degrees they grant are respected by employers and the credits you earn at all three of them will transfer to other schools.

Some examples. Ivy Tech is a vocational school. The tuition is $3000 a year for a full-time student. Some of the degrees they offer are also offered by for-profit schools here like Brown-Mackie College. Brown-Mackie charges an astounding $23,000 a year! Oh, and the degree isn't worth the paper its printed on.

A couple years ago, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette did a story on these for-profit schools. They asked a number of local business leaders if they would hire Brown-Mackie grads, and if they would hire Ivy Tech grads. The people they interviewed, some were local business owners, others were managers of the Fort Wayne operations of large corporations. All of them, EVERY ONE, said their companies NEVER hire grads from for-profit schools. Ever.

When asked about Ivy Tech, most of them said they hire Ivy Tech grads all the time! So, you can spend $3000 a year and get a degree that will get you a job, or you can spend $23,000 and get a degree printed on toilet paper and life-crushing debt that you'll never be able to pay off.
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Old 08-22-2016   #10
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or you can spend $23,000 and get a degree printed on toilet paper and life-crushing debt that you'll never be able to pay off.
$23000 is life crushing? Come to Canada keeping in mind the whole university/college terminology is different. University education starts at least in the $50,000's and can go to 6 digits quickly.

I think I came out around $20000 with my college education. Not life crushing at all.
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Old 08-22-2016   #11
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$23000 is life crushing? Come to Canada keeping in mind the whole university/college terminology is different. University education starts at least in the $50,000's and can go to 6 digits quickly.

I think I came out around $20000 with my college education. Not life crushing at all.

$23,000 PER YEAR. Not for the whole degree.

I spent $15,000 for my BFA from Indiana University in the late 1990s. Back then it took 5 years to complete. At $23,000 a year, it would have cost me $115,000. That is life-crushing. You can buy a NICE house in Indiana for that.
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Old 08-22-2016   #12
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Thanks radi(c)al_cam and Chris for further insights. They rather confirmed my suspicions, but as someone who never studied in the US it is hardly my place to say so.

As for the "finishing school" aspect, yes, well, many universities world-wide are like that, even the good ones. Oxford, in particular, is on the one hand among the best universities in the world, while on the other hand providing the final polish to a public school education and its associated privilege.

On that last point, I'm not sure entirely what you mean, radi(c)al_cam, by a "Prep School". Presumably the equivalent of a French prépa, the crammer that gets you into one of the Grandes Ecoles. It takes a couple of years after you get your baccalauréat, which is roughly equivalent to an American high school diploma or an English set of A levels; but I see from Wikipedia that a baccalaureate means a first degree in the USA.

In England, a prep school prepares you for public school (which is of course private). Traditionally you left prep at 13 and went on to public school but now it's mostly at 11. Fees for public schools are hair-raising. My old school, Plymouth College, is about as minor as public schools get, charges fees for next year from £8665 per term to £9930 per term (call it £27,000 a year, or maybe $35,000) for boarding and £4340 to £5140 per term for day school. I went there under the Direct Grant scheme whereby in return for a Local Authority grant the school gave 20 free scholarships a year. Even the prep school is around £10,000 a year. Eton is about 20% more expensive than my old school: $40,000+

I don't know enough about other European countries' educational systems to comment.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-22-2016   #13
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$23,000 PER YEAR. Not for the whole degree.

I spent $15,000 for my BFA from Indiana University in the late 1990s. Back then it took 5 years to complete. At $23,000 a year, it would have cost me $115,000. That is life-crushing. You can buy a NICE house in Indiana for that.
Ah per year. Seems similar then. Instead though for that money you would get a degree from a reputable school.

I wish you could get a nice house for 115k though. That's peanuts compared to the housing market in Toronto now, I don't even think you could get an empty lot for that.
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Old 08-22-2016   #14
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I wish you could get a nice house for 115k though. That's peanuts compared to the housing market in Toronto now, I don't even think you could get an empty lot for that.
As with anything, that's relative. There are parts of Indiana where that's possible, but other parts (like Indianapolis) where it would be much harder. Toronto, no, but out in Peterborough, or another outlying area, very possible.
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Old 08-22-2016   #15
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I attended BIP back at its height, the early 1970s.

The two campi, Montecito and Riviera, were hyper active with swarms of serious, dedicated students, many of whom were older than typical, being ex-military going to school on the G.I. bill.

Classes were rigorous, faculty demanding. The school's reputation was sterling and nationwide.
I landed my first college teaching position in large part because I went to Brooks.

I revisited not long ago and was shocked to see what had become of it.

So sorry for current faculty and staff and, especially, students who will now "matriculate" with little to show for their efforts but student loan debt.
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Old 08-22-2016   #16
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A few years ago, my wife and I were visiting our daughter in L.A. and we were driving (our daughter did the driving) to a place to visit (Hearst) and I asked if we could stop at Brooks. To me it looked like a resort for rich kids to do whatever they did. I believe, at one time, it was a first rate school to receive an education, probably for the WWII folks.

For my photography formal education and some of my photography friends, we apprenticed with Monte Zucker. What's wrong with that? It cost, in dollars, very little, but the rewards reaped were pretty good. Our PPA affiliate here focuses on photography as a business and how each of us can be successful in many arenas, with family, community, the industry and have happy clients.

My son in law works in the Hollywood industry and it has really changed from many vantage points, from the tools/technology used, distribution, making the movies to how folks view them. Perhaps Brooks didn't keep up with the changes.
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Old 08-22-2016   #17
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We had a similar situation here in SW Ohio. The Ohio Institute of Photography opened in the mid 70's and had a great group of instructors and students. The curriculum was broad in offering Portrait and Wedding, Commercial, Lab and Medical classes. The instructors were all either pros or business people with a strong interest in photography. I did a lot of business with them and some of their graduates are still close friends. In the 90's the owners wanted to retire and sold to Kaplan (owned at the time by the Washington Post). They began recruiting any warm body that could qualify for government subsidies. The reputation of the school went down the drain and a few years ago they fired all of the photo staff and concentrated on medical technicians, nursing and law enforcement.
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Old 08-22-2016   #18
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I was accepted to Brooks in 2004, but choose not to go. Already having a bachelors degree in graphic design, I thought they'd give me credit for parallel courses, especially in the humanities. They didn't. They wanted to have me take them all over again. I saw through their money grab and passed.
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Old 08-22-2016   #19
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As with anything, that's relative. There are parts of Indiana where that's possible, but other parts (like Indianapolis) where it would be much harder. Toronto, no, but out in Peterborough, or another outlying area, very possible.
There's a house for sale in the next village -- habitable, but basic -- for 28,000€ (I think -- it might be 25,000). At 100,000€ there's lots of choice, often with enough land to let you come close to self-sufficiency.

Then again, there are very few jobs in La France Profonde, and even fewer that pay well. See http://rogerandfrances.eu/la-france-...rance-profonde for more about living in "deep" France.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-22-2016   #20
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When I got out of the service in '75, I thought long and hard about going to Brooks, but the cost of living there prevented me from doing so. I looked into other schools, but not having any savings for expenses still kept me from going. By the time I finally got a job that paid good money, I decided to stick with that for a guaranteed retirement income. Not that I didn't explore going pro on my own, even opening a studio at one time, but the job was somewhat demanding, and didn't allow me time to really get the studio up and running.

I had thought about working with the local photo studio back home, but didn't want to be tied down doing only weddings and portraits. Being in a small town meant not a lot of opportunities for much of anything else.

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Old 08-22-2016   #21
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Jane Bown was barely accepted to short photography course. Yousuf Karsh didn't have university diploma for photography. Winogrand and HCB were studying painting, Winogrand only attended photojournalism class.
I'm reading HCB "Dialogs" and in two interviews he has mentioned photography schools as useless.
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Old 08-22-2016   #22
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Jane Bown was barely accepted to short photography course. Yousuf Karsh didn't have university diploma for photography. Winogrand and HCB were studying painting, Winogrand only attended photojournalism class.
I'm reading HCB "Dialogs" and in two interviews he has mentioned photography schools as useless.
This is the normal reaction from older photographers, most of whom (like me) started out as self-taught amateurs and then worked as assistants/gofers for established photographers. That's why, when faced with a choice of a B.A. Fine Art in photography and law, I chose law. University wasn't as much fun as art school (several of my friends went to art schools) but it's been a damn' sight more useful since.

I have seen it asserted that younger photographers have to have "qualifications", but I find it hard to understand why except perhaps in non-photographic jobs (shop assistant, salesman...). My "gaffer" when I was an assistant in London in the 1970s always preferred self-taught assistants because he reckoned that photography schools destroyed any sense of urgency or budgeting.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-22-2016   #23
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I always love it when people say going to school is a waste of time. Sure, it can be. But it can also be completely useful. It's what you make of it.
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Old 08-22-2016   #24
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I always love it when people say going to school is a waste of time. Sure, it can be. But it can also be completely useful. It's what you make of it.
You forgot to add "photography".

Personally, I'm not saying what going to school is waste of time, but agree on HCB take about "photography schools". From his and GW photography I could clearly see what attending art school, classes has greater impact on results in photography. HCB was recommending to take pictures as artist will do paintings.
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Old 08-22-2016   #25
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I always love it when people say going to school is a waste of time. Sure, it can be. But it can also be completely useful. It's what you make of it.
+1

Besides getting a go grounding in your major College is an excellent place to explore different lines of study/work. At Iowa State University that is one of their selling points. They also allow one to work on a second Bachelors after you finish your first.

After I was working for ten years I didn't feel going back for my Bachelors had any value, but unfortunately it kept me from qualifying for many jobs. So I went and got my Masters, bit of work but worth it.

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Old 08-22-2016   #26
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Ah, yes. Of course. The gubmint! Oh dear.
The government regulations mostly had to do with promises made about jobs after graduation. These schools are not for everyone, but there are folks who do a lot better in them than in larger institutions.

It's a fine example of when the Feds need to step in as problems are not able to be fixed via the courts or capitalism.

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Old 08-22-2016   #27
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You forgot to add "photography".

Personally, I'm not saying what going to school is waste of time, but agree on HCB take about "photography schools". From his and GW photography I could clearly see what attending art school, classes has greater impact on results in photography. HCB was recommending to take pictures as artist will do paintings.
I didn't forget... and wasn't responding to you specifically. But as with anything in this world, there is no one proper way to do things and what works for me might not work for you. Education is generally a good thing. Let's remember that GW taught at many art schools.
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Old 08-22-2016   #28
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I always love it when people say going to school is a waste of time. Sure, it can be. But it can also be completely useful. It's what you make of it.
Not necessarily. If the school is useless (poor tutors, poor equipment, no useful introductions) then it must surely be a waste of time.

Also, "waste of time" has to be set against what else you could do with those same, few, precious years. Such as working as an assistant.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-22-2016   #29
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I live right next to a Univ...real close..my house is located about 40' from the dorms..and I get to see a lot of students every day..
This particular little ivy league college where I live... charges about 60K per year..
I often wonder..why would anyone want to get into that kind of debt these days..
and spend about 10% of their prime 40 year adult living & working life...18 to 60...going to school and doing what other people say they should be doing for good grades and a piece of paper..and getting into extreme debt too.. and at such a young age..
And let me tell you this..these kids are plain scared these days..as jobs are scarce..even with a PHD..
My sister graduated from the same Univ in 1969..the tuition was about 3K per year then..
It aint 1970 anymore...
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Old 08-22-2016   #30
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. . . It aint 1970 anymore...
This is indeed the point. Trouble is, no-one knows what the future holds. A lot of young people are mercilessly conned, whether by old fogeys telling them how things once were, even though their own experience may no longer be relevant, or hard-sell merchants telling them (with no evidence whatsoever) how things are going to be.

There's a good thread on a UK photographic forum about Universal Basic Income: http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk...income.129715/

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-22-2016   #31
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Not necessarily. If the school is useless (poor tutors, poor equipment, no useful introductions) then it must surely be a waste of time.

Also, "waste of time" has to be set against what else you could do with those same, few, precious years. Such as working as an assistant.

Cheers,

R.
You say not necessarily, but I did say ... sure it can be.
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Old 08-22-2016   #32
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Not necessarily. If the school is useless (poor tutors, poor equipment, no useful introductions) then it must surely be a waste of time......
Sy Syms always said an informed consumer is his best customer.

If you don't like it change, transfer, go to management and see what other options are available. Learn what doesn't work for you and find a place that give you what you need how you like it. Some of my students tried more traditional schools (local public community college) and it didn't work for them, they really love our school.

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Old 08-22-2016   #33
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Sy Syms always said an informed consumer is his best customer.

If you don't like it change, transfer, go to management and see what other options are available. Learn what doesn't work for you and find a place that give you what you need how you like it. Some of my students tried more traditional schools (local public community college) and it didn't work for them, they really love our school.

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Dear Bill,

"Management"? In a college? Oh, dear.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-22-2016   #34
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Dear Bill,

"Management"? In a college? Oh, dear.

Cheers,

R.
College students are consumers. Lots of options, lots of places, all with a bit of difference (e.g. price, flexibility, diversity) and it's up to the consumer to understand how they can get what they want and make it happen.

Deans, Department Heads, Professors, Financial Aid, to name but a few types in the management chain.

B2 (;->
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Old 08-22-2016   #35
Roger Hicks
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College students are consumers. . . .
Dear Bill,

No, no, no, a thousand times no. To conflate study and consumption is about as awful a mistake as one can make.

Cheers,

R.
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Dam Iphones!!
Old 08-22-2016   #36
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Dam Iphones!!

That is not all, my local community college, where I was going to sign up for photography classes, just told me that they only have digital photography classes (read it: Photoshop). No longer they offer wet dark room. Shame!!!!
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Next: Journalism Schools
Old 08-22-2016   #37
pepeguitarra
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Next: Journalism Schools

Next in line is journalism schools. Anyowe can nowdays open a blog while in high school and become a journalist. Sad, the world is moving too fast toward a world of nothing, no wonder we have D.J.T.
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Old 08-22-2016   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Dear Bill,

No, no, no, a thousand times no. To conflate study and consumption is about as awful a mistake as one can make.

Cheers,

R.

Study is the consumption of information that hopefully leads to knowledge and abilities. Here in the states you have a pretty wide range of choices of schools you can apply to.

Not everyone learns the same way, not every school is right for every student. Some need smaller more individual attention, others need to be part of large groups, others thrive online.

I don't see how that could be a mistake, please elaborate.

Thanks.

B2 (;->
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Old 08-22-2016   #39
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For me, studying is figuring out the process and does it lead to a solution. The how and why things happen. Most of the time when I think I have figured out something, the solution usually opens doors to other ideas seeking answers!

I don't need to consume any information anymore because I can use words to search using the likes of Google. It may not always be true but it can be a start.
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Old 08-22-2016   #40
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Study is the consumption of information that hopefully leads to knowledge and abilities. Here in the states you have a pretty wide range of choices of schools you can apply to.. . .
Dear Bill,

First sentence, once again: no, no, no and a thousand times no. You can't "consume" knowledge: it's a meaningless misappropriation of a neo-liberal buzz-word.

Second sentence: in France, anyone with a baccalauréat (like a high school diploma) can go to pretty much any university except a few elite Grandes Ecoles. You don't need to apply. The US educational system is better than some, and worse than others; possibly, quite a lot of others. Few others, though, make the egregious mistake of conflating "student" and "consumer". England is one of those few.

Cheers,

R.
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