13
Jul
10

Changing World of Higher Education


The Ivory Towers Are ShakingI have been reading in the Chronicle of Higher education that universities beginning to end academic programs because of the budget cuts institutions. Now, this state of affairs for education is dire for all academic departments to be lopped off like unwanted cancers. In one of the articles that I read it showed that faculty at Florida State University were getting the axe.  62 of their faculty members received pink slips and were told they were not needed after May of 2010  The point in my writing is not to discuss the morality of the university decided to cut a program from the curriculum of the University, or the ethics of hiring new tenure-track faculty and then letting them go after six months, though these are very significant issues, my thought is more along the lines of whether education is delivering the goods. Our higher education institutions producing qualified and trained professionals for the working world; because that is what the families of America are concerned with, and not whether or not oceanography or anthropology are on the curriculum.  The questions I bring up are “What is the purpose of a college education?” and “Is Education meeting societies needs?”

First of all
It is apparent that certain academic programs are of less value and do not produce large enough numbers of graduates to show viability. Philosophy is especially picked out as many universities have very small programs which do not graduate more than a handful of students in a five-year period. Most American families want to see practicality for college degree programs. They claim diploma with employment ready. With the cost of education continuing to go up I’m sure this will be certainly even more of a question for America’s families.

The promise that many majors just don’t have jobs attached to their curriculum, and in a market where jobs are scarce or there is a over saturation of unemployed skilled labor, college graduates often face little opportunity upon graduation. I’ve heard the argument that many of these degree programs prepare people to be able to think and to argue and to analyze, but do employers look at it that way. That is the argument I hear in the university environment, but is that what the business world wants, is that what medicine, law or other professional fields want to see?

In the past when liberal arts candidates receive their degrees, they entered a world where their employers were staffed with people with those type of degrees, and who appreciated the academic curriculum and standards that universities across the nation set. However that’s changed, and now with the economic climate being so difficult what good is a liberal arts degree. I’ve heard that more than 65% of graduates find no employment related directly to what they do in their undergraduate programs. I suspect that graduate programs are full of students from these liberal arts programs trying to get their masters so that they will be better qualified for work, however I wonder if that really improves things.

As the academic departments are being chopped at many universities, where do the faculty go? What are they qualified to do? And then you haven’t a glut of Nasser students who just completed their degrees, many of them hoping to be able to become professors, so the spiral continues. That is the problem with academia, education becomes built into a large white tower, and those scaling those slippery laws hope to reach the top so they too can look out; but what is apparent is that education as an institution ignores for the most part the concept that they are educating people to prepare them for a job market.

I know for myself having gone through masters program in a liberal arts undergraduate degree, that often I find that though I have many skills, it is the ones that have developed in my work that prepare me for the next job with almost no recognition of the skills developed through my training in college. When I talked to my own children, and they’re being influenced by their schools and their friends, and other societal influences, I tell them there’s something practical, for you can always read books to satisfy your intellectual curiosity. Once you get employed, take every opportunity to advance your training and knowledge, go to college in the evenings, but do not expect college to pave the road for a job. Might it be that a job might be paving the way for which he should stay go in college?

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