Friday, February 21, 2014

Bachelor's degree = marriage material?

The other day I read on Facebook a problem statement from a relative, describing her friend who asked her for advice: Given her daughter has failed grades in almost every course, with the lowest scores in English and math, which university she should attend. The friend mentioned that her daughter wants to study management.  Given the current education system in Taiwan, many crappy universities in Taiwan will still accept her daughter. The obvious thing is that the daughter will probably have trouble finding anything but minimum wage jobs after getting her degree.

Another relative commented that instead of going to university, this girl should probably learn a trade instead. However, if she wants a university degree for the purpose of increasing her chance of finding a suitable husband, then the problem of career prospect does not exist and she should just attend any university that she thinks is suitable for her.

I can't begin to describe how many problems I see with the above statement. It is precisely because of the above mentality (University degree = a better person/more suitable marriage), that the Taiwan government approved the conversion of hundreds of trade schools into universities. I can't blame them though as Canada does the same thing with many of its colleges, NOT for the reason of producing more marriageable people though, but for being able to claim that Canada has more college grads than any other countries in the world. Is that a better reason for creating more universities? Probably not, but at least the reasoning is less convoluted. How the hell does a B.A. make you better marriage material anyways, unless the school offers cooking courses and relationship guidance? (which are probably good ideas by the way)

The above conversation helped me understand something about my mom's logic. Because I didn't pursue a medical degree, then my education was garbage in terms of career building. The main function of a Bachelors degree, as far as she was concerned, was to signal to other Chinese parents with sons that I am a piece of suitable marriage material. This explains a lot of the strange actions that she performed over the past decade that were extremely puzzling to me for the longest time.

As for that girl and her parents, somehow I would say that at that age, "management" just sounds like a good career. Who knows what it actually involves? I can only say that before asking around, they really should have an honest conversation with her daughter first, gently informing her that people in management positions often have to outcompete other people in some way, either in terms of grades at school, performance at the work place, work/life experience, or exceptional skills at convincing the boss they are somehow the best candidate for management. I mean, I think she can pursue the path if she really wants to, but maybe, she should pay more attention in classes, and start working summer jobs to observe how managers do their jobs. But I am not surprised or upbeat about her situation, because my parents also prefer to discuss with anybody and everybody in the world except with me about my personal future. Go figure.


  1. I have been reading some of your blog lately and must say that you have some very thoughtful and well articulated articles. I believe that people should not focus so much on these types of factors when choosing a spouse. I think that part of the problem with marriage these days is that we are trying to be someone who we are not to please others and looking for something that we don't necessarily want. A college degree is a great thing, but it doesn't make a person a better individual merely by having one. It's more about who you are inside than what you have. I have met some real "losers" with college degrees.

    Anyway, great blog!

    1. Thank you for your very kind words Mr. Infinity, J.D. I completely agree with your comments. My family has a tendency of constantly giving me advice, and never explaining their logic behind their sympathetic but belittling suggestions. I've been using my blog as a deductive reasoning brainstorm tool. This whole episode where the relative, who doesn't even know this person or the daughter, provides such advice in an as-matter-of-fact manner, says a lot about her way of thinking (which is probably similar to my mother's mindset too).