Roundy Wells

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Radio address for Nov. 3, 2012. I contemplate going to college late in life, and compare the realistic options disfavourably with the college of my dreams.

I only had 3.9MB left in my hosting service’s upload quota at the time of this writing, so I recorded everything in mono and got creative with my encoder’s compression settings. I mentioned this on Twitter, which sparked some good thoughts and exchanges on the growth of the podcast in general, which I’ll summarize as a blog post soon. Sincere thanks to Mark, Ken, and Rundy for the kind, helpful and interesting thoughts offered.

The “spoken word performance” at the end is an untitled poem from Poems (1876 - 1889), by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Music is Boy With a Coin by Iron & Wine.


  1. Arlan

    I have a BA in Literature from a state school and I am currently enrolled in an MBA program from a different state school. I have a brother who completed an engineering program (2 years at a community school and 2 at a private university), another brother starting an engineering program, another who has finished an LPN program (begun years after taking two college classes in high school), a sister with a two-year degree working on getting a four year degree online, and another sister taking non-matriculated art courses. I have two gainfully employed brothers who have never had formal college education at all.

    As broad as that “shared experience” might be considered, I have met enough people to realize that people’s reactions to college are far broader. I think your reaction to college would strike me as unique in my first- and second-hand collection of experiences.

    Here are my current summary opinions on college:

    1. The monetary ROI of a college education is unpredictably variable and the risk is increasing. I would not feel confident that a college education would result in improved employment prospects without a specific first-hand reason for thinking so (such as my employer telling me to get an MBA to facilitate advancement with that employer).
    2. There are intellectually stimulating connections to be made at college. I can still trade occasional and familiar e-mails with a few instructors I had for only one class.
    3. Intellectual stimulation is not the primary result of attending college. Classes I wish I had invested more effort into were smothered by dull, useless classes where my natural bent to look for interesting angles was repeatedly stymied, bypassed, and and starved out.

    Like “corporate America,” or America generally, or almost anything generally, my opinion of college and the college industry is that the thing as a whole should be regarded cynically as self-aggrandizing, delivering less than promised, handicapped by conventions, politics, and greed, and unwholesome. Notwithstanding that critique, there are pleasant meetings and novel thoughts to be had within. But neither are these graces confined to academic campuses. In short, I find for myself that mundane uses should be expected of mundane things, and sublime gifts expected not from places but from people—above all, that Giver who never went to school.

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