Monday, August 03, 2009

The Commercialization of Education and What It Has Wrought

Honey, honey, honey. We promise you an education, not a job. What you do with that education is your business. Irrespective of whatever job you do or do not get, you paid for knowledge, not an income in your bank account.


Eric said...

I think for many people, the main objective of college is to get a good job, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. In fact, for younger people, I think that is perhaps the best reason to go to college. I have a few friends who spent over a decade of their lives floating around the university, double majoring in esoteric subjects, pursuing knowledge purely for the sake of intellectual curiosity, and now entering middle age, they tend to agree that a bit of 'commercialization' in their education might have been a better investment of the money they spent.

But yeah, we are certainly in agreement that nobody is in any way guaranteed a job by the university.

Huck said...

Eric - Yes, getting a job is part of what a college education should help to do. In fact, even in my own field of Latin American Studies, we incorporate a career component to the degree program so that students can better position themselves to consider what kinds of jobs might fit their degree, their knowledge, and their training, and how they can put their best foot forward in presenting their education and major to potential employers.

But that's a far cry from being a job placement guarantor. College, even a vo-tech community college, is not a career apprenticeship program with a guaranteed job at the end. Heck, even professional internships at companies are not guarantees for jobs with the company once the internship is over.

I see this particular student as representing an entitlement attitude that permeates the higher education system. By treating students like the customer who is never wrong, we have seen students (and their parents) demand "A"s and demand degrees for no other reason than they paid tuition. All other criteria, such as having to earn the grades and the degrees are becoming less and less relevant to the educational experience. And that is a travesty.

Eric said...

Well put, and I couldn't agree more. I think the entitlement attitude you mention permeates our entire society, not just higher education.