Did College Really Prepare You for a Career?

There is so much news time spent on the subject of “jobs,” and yet I see a government that knows remarkably little about how jobs are actually created.  But worse – and something you don’t see discussed so much is the role of colleges and universities in training people for the real world.  Author Camille Paglia wrote on the subject in The Chronicle Review of higher education last April.  This excerpt is worth reading, and I’d love to know your response:

Jobs, and the preparation of students for them, should be front and center in the thinking of educators. The idea that college is a contemplative realm of humanistic inquiry, removed from vulgar material needs, is nonsense. The humanities have been gutted by four decades of pretentious postmodernist theory and insular identity politics. . . .

Having taught in art schools for most of my four decades in the classroom, I am used to having students who work with their hands—ceramicists, weavers, woodworkers, metal smiths, jazz drummers. There is a calm, centered, Zen-like engagement with the physical world in their lives. In contrast, I see glib, cynical, neurotic elite-school graduates roiling everywhere in journalism and the media. They have been ill-served by their trendy, word-centered educations.

Jobs, jobs, jobs: We need a sweeping revalorization of the trades. The pressuring of middle-class young people into officebound, paper-pushing jobs is cruelly shortsighted. Concrete manual skills, once gained through the master-apprentice alliance in guilds, build a secure identity. Our present educational system defers credentialing and maturity for too long. When middle-class graduates in their mid-20s are just stepping on the bottom rung of the professional career ladder, many of their working-class peers are already self-supporting and married with young children.

The elite schools, predicated on molding students into mirror images of their professors, seem divorced from any rational consideration of human happiness.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • You might be interested to read the following article by Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. (He is currently the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has an abiding concern for young men and their educational future. He opens with this:

    “Is our postmodern, postindustrial society simply better suited to women than to men? Hanna Rosin makes the case for this claim in the current issue of The Atlantic, and her article demands close attention. Men, she argues, are simply falling behind women in almost every sector of cultural influence and economic power. This shift, she understands, is nothing less than unprecedented in the span of human history.

    Rosin begins her article with the fact that sex-selection technologies in the West are now more often used to select a preference for girls than for boys, reversing the historical trend. Why? She explains: ‘Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed. Cultural and economic changes always reinforce each other. And the global economy is evolving in a way that is eroding the historical preference for male children, worldwide.’

    Rosin’s article is well documented and forceful in argument. The bottom line is the claim that the trend and trajectory of the global economy have for some time now been headed toward female skills and talents. At the most basic level, this means a shift from physical strength to intellectual energies and education. At the next level, it also means a shift from leadership models more associated with males toward the nurturing leadership more associated with women. In any event, the changes are colossal.

    Nothing has brought this into clearer sight than the current global recession. In the United States, the recession has been dubbed a “he-cession,” due to the fact that three-quarters of the 8 million jobs lost were lost by men. Even more devastating to men, most of these jobs will not return, given the vast changes the recession has brought about. ‘The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male and deeply identified with macho: construction, manufacturing, high finance. Some of these jobs will come back,’ Rosin predicts, ‘but the overall pattern of dislocation is neither temporary nor random.'”

    Read the rest of this sobering article here: http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/06/22/the-end-of-men-a-hard-look-at-the-future/

    Here’s another article from the Wall Street Journal: “Young Womens’ Pay Exceeds Male Peers'”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704421104575463790770831192.html

    We are currently in the midst of massive social change, and if men want to earn more over the long term, they MUST go to college.

    e-Mom @ Chrysalis
    http://chrysaliscafe.com

  • you and your readers may be interested in entrepreneurs that are trying to change the way students view the “value” of higher ed, and the financial obligations that come along with attendance and matriculation.

    Rick O’Donnell is one of those entrepreneurs, who we interviewed recently:

    http://edreformer.com/2010/08/making-the-value-added-leap-from-school-to-work/

  • Jon

    I’ve heard the line about college grads making a lot more money in their careers, but kinda of along with your statment, is the fact that while someone without a degree might make 20-30k a year less, someone who goes to college has the student loans to pay off. Plus, a degree is no guarentee of actually GETTING a job.

  • Fascinating commentary on our culture. Seth Godin makes some very similar points about the evolution of our educational system in “Linchpin”. Thanks for posting!

  • islandgirl

    I dropped out of journalism school my jr. year. I am married to a CPA with an MBA. In our 20 years of marriage, I have made 75% of the income. What is sad is what it took for him to put himself through school, trusting the lie that it would pay off.