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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4953 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  11:12:36  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There is an article in the Chronicle today about a 32-year old who is earning his 11th advanced degree:
Benjamin B. Bolger's story seems like a hoax. At age 32, he says, he has just earned his 11th advanced degree: a doctorate that Harvard University awarded him on Thursday. ...
Mr. Bolger's unlikely story has another twist: He is dyslexic. He titles his tale "The Boy Who Couldn't Read Gets a Doctorate from Harvard."

Proud but winsome, Mr. Bolger is an education addict—and his résumé is real.
I don't doubt that he has these degrees-- that is, I am sure that he's not making up that he has the following degrees:
* University of Oxford (1997, M.Sc., sociology)
* University of Cambridge (1998, M.Phil., sociology and politics of modern society)
* Stanford University (2000, A.M., education)
* Columbia University (2001, M.A., politics and education)
* Columbia University (2002, M.S., real-estate development)
* Harvard University (2002, M.Des.S., real estate)
* Brown University (2004, M.A., development studies)
* Dartmouth College (2004, M.A., liberal studies)
* Brandeis University (2007, M.A., coexistence and conflict)
* Skidmore College (2007, M.A., liberal studies)
* Harvard University (2008, D.Des., design)
But I'm going to call into question the quality of some of these. I mean, he earned two MAs in 2004 from two universities in two different states.

Apparently, he's an odd guy:
Mr. Bolger hardly sleeps. "You really can, psychologically, just will yourself into staying awake," he says. He usually gets four hours of sleep a night—between midnight and 4 a.m.—and he encourages others to give up at least two. "It's good, trust me," he says. "You'll find that you end up doing a lot more."
Because of his dyslexia, he has his mother help him with his work:
After finishing an associate degree at Muskegon Community College and a bachelor's at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Mr. Bolger went on to earn a master's or two a year, while his mother read aloud his assignments and transcribed his essays... Mr. Bolger listens to some books aloud—from live readers or as digital audio files—and others he skims. "He has a really fine eye for extracting critical details from very difficult texts," says Mr. Solomon. Mr. Bolger dictates most compositions, and his mother, girlfriend, a volunteer, or a hired stenographer types them.
Point is, I am skeptical that the quality of this guy's various degrees is worth much, and I more imagine that these schools were just happy to take his tuition money and let him half-ass it.

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
24977 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  11:45:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wait. Two Masters degrees in "liberal studies?" Did he just transfer credits from Dartmouth to Skidmore and then say, "gimme a sheepskin?"

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  11:59:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's like carbon credits, many students have extra credits and they sell them on the NYSE.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4953 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  12:29:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The guy's a little full of himself, too. His alumni blurb on the Harvard website rambles on about how great he is, and the website of his new business (a "consulting practice that specializes in helping prospective college and graduate students prepare for rigorous academic programs") seems to basically be a vehicle for him to show his graduation photos from various universities.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  12:43:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For no really good reason, I am reminded of this:
Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Block introduced Evan Tanner, specialist in lost political causes, in this rousing, often comic 1966 yarn. Unable to sleep for 15 years following a Korean War head wound, Tanner devotes his considerable free time to reading, learning languages, and turning his affliction into a livelihood by writing theses and dissertations for graduate students in New York. Then he learns of hidden Armenian gold in Turkey and sets off on an unlikely adventure that makes him the most wanted fugitive in the world as well as the accidental leader of a Macedonian revolt. Block's tale gets off to an engaging start, sags in the middle partly because of some bone-jarring violence, and recovers neatly at the end. Nick Sullivan handles the characters' many accents quite well. Highly recommended.



"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  12:55:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The doctor of design program is also intended to take 3 years. But even so, what is the point to all of this? Getting a degree is devoid of meaning if you do jack-shit with it.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4953 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  13:03:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ricky

The doctor of design program is also intended to take 3 years. But even so, what is the point to all of this? Getting a degree is devoid of meaning if you do jack-shit with it.
Right so while he was working on his DDes, he was also completing two other degrees from two different universities.

As for the point-- who knows? But his experience in the college application process will certainly help his consulting business.
Edited by - Cuneiformist on 06/06/2008 13:04:28
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Rubicon95
Skeptic Friend

220 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  13:15:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Rubicon95 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Being a Skidmore alumn, I was suprised to know we had a master's program.
The only M.A he can get is part of a MALS. Master of Arts of Liberal Studies with the following conentrations:
american studies
art and art history
business and management
counseling
creative writing
cultural studies
dance theory and practice
education
environmental studies
exercise science
literary studies
philosophy and religion
psychology
public policy
social sciences
theater studies
women's studies
(taken from Skidmore's website)
From the way it is described it a self tailored degree for about 9K.
Gee My parents would have loved that.

"People talking at movie shows
People smoking in bed
People voting Republican
Give them Boot to the Head" The Frantics
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Boron10
Religion Moderator

USA
1244 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  13:22:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Boron10 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wait a minute ... I thought Skidmore was an all-girls' school...

It appears I am mistaken: I just perused their website, which shows some guys who seem to be students.
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Rubicon95
Skeptic Friend

220 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  13:29:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Rubicon95 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Was.. They began to admit men in the late 70's. Still the ratio was great when I was there in the 80's --3:1 Coming from a repressive Catholic all male high school....

To quote Handel!
HALLELUJAH!! HALLELUJAH!! HALLELUJAH!! HALLELUJAH!! HALLE--LUJAH!!


"People talking at movie shows
People smoking in bed
People voting Republican
Give them Boot to the Head" The Frantics
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4953 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  16:18:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Rubicon95

Being a Skidmore alumn, I was suprised to know we had a master's program.
The only M.A he can get is part of a MALS.
Ah, I see. And the degree was designed for non-residents:
Working one-on-one with Skidmore faculty, master's students handcraft individualized concentrations in every area of the liberal arts. After taking a weeklong introductory seminar on campus, students typically complete the rest of their coursework at a distance through individualized tutorials with Skidmore professors, in-class courses at universities near their homes, supervised internships, and/or study abroad.

Studying part-time, students take an average of two-and-a-half years to complete the program's 30 credits. Graduates enter Ph.D. programs and professional schools, further their current careers and start new ones.
I looked through the program. Skidmore is obviously a top notch school, but this program seems to me to be like what a lot of schools are doing now-- offering these programs to "non-traditional students" by offering night-time or weekend classes (or not even requiring them to be there at all). It's not the same rigor as a more conventional graduate program. If I had $18-$27k, I could do this without much problem. Except, as Ricky already noted, I'm sort of happy with my own advanced degree and would rather just focus on advancing knowledge on that, rather than working to get a few more letters are my name.
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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  19:23:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Cune......

I don't doubt that he has these degrees-- that is, I am sure that he's not making up that he has the following degrees:
* University of Oxford (1997, M.Sc., sociology)
* University of Cambridge (1998, M.Phil., sociology and politics of modern society)
* Stanford University (2000, A.M., education)
* Columbia University (2001, M.A., politics and education)
* Columbia University (2002, M.S., real-estate development)
* Harvard University (2002, M.Des.S., real estate)
* Brown University (2004, M.A., development studies)
* Dartmouth College (2004, M.A., liberal studies)
* Brandeis University (2007, M.A., coexistence and conflict)
* Skidmore College (2007, M.A., liberal studies)
* Harvard University (2008, D.Des., design)
I think it would be interesting to invite this glutton for punishment to join SFN and find out if he has had time to learn anything in his eleven years of higher education. I spent approximately seven years of my life pursuing the finality of one higher degree and have learned far more in the years following matriculation than the sum of all knowledge I had acquired at the time of my doctorate. We have members here at SFN without Bachelor Degrees that appear better educated than many folks that sport PhD's. Formal education is certainly valuable. but it is far and away not the end and all of education!
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4953 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  20:10:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck
I think it would be interesting to invite this glutton for punishment to join SFN and find out if he has had time to learn anything in his eleven years of higher education. I spent approximately seven years of my life pursuing the finality of one higher degree and have learned far more in the years following matriculation than the sum of all knowledge I had acquired at the time of my doctorate. We have members here at SFN without Bachelor Degrees that appear better educated than many folks that sport PhD's. Formal education is certainly valuable. but it is far and away not the end and all of education!
I agree to an extent. Obviously a PhD isn't the apex of all knowledge. I have classmates who got their PhD, but who are clearly (in my mind) inferior scholars.

That said, I'm not objecting to higher education or to advanced degrees. I simply cast doubt on the notion that this guy's 11 degrees are worth a hill of beans. I'd rather have one PhD in a worthwhile field that required one's full-on dedication, than 3 or 4 MA continuing education degrees in disparate areas from different universities all just to pad my CV for my consulting job.
Edited by - Cuneiformist on 06/06/2008 20:13:41
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Vegeta
Skeptic Friend

United Kingdom
238 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2008 :  23:03:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Vegeta a Private Message  Reply with Quote
you gotta do a lot to impress Cuneiformist

What are you looking at? Haven't you ever seen a pink shirt before?

"I was asked if I would do a similar sketch but focusing on the shortcomings of Islam rather than Christianity. I said, 'No, no I wouldn't. I may be an atheist but I'm not stupid.'" - Steward Lee
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2008 :  03:07:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It looks to me like the "proud but winsome, Mr. Bolger" is persuing degrees for their own sake, not for the study they represent; rather like building up a stamp collection. If he has the time and resources to do this, I have no problem with it. Each to his own fetish, says I.

But I wonder how he's financing it -- I'm not about to pay forty bucks to subscribe to the Chronicle and so didn't get the entire article. Higher ed. ain't cheap, even the mail-order kind.

A pity, though. He'll never use any of it and practically speaking, might just as well have no more than a GED.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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