What's the matter with College?: the NYTimes wants to know

The NY Times is looking for a few good essays from college students about the college experience. Students are enmcouraged to read this essay by Rick Perlstein and then respond with a 1200 word essay. The grand prize is that your essay will be published in the NYTimes. You have to be enrolled to play the game. For more info…click here

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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  1. itsalljustaride · July 9, 2007 Reply

    I’m never really sure who to blame for this shift exactly. Students go to college now to get jobs, which used to be the realm of junior colleges or trade schools, even high school. But companies have been pushing colleges to teach students a lot of what they used to teach new hires in training and on-the-job experience. A good chunk of students today really aren’t meant for 4-year colleges, but rather trade schools. Unfortunately those kinds of schools are seen as very much inferior to a new high school grad. Parents and school counselors do as much to feed this perception as anyone.

    Colleges aren’t places to learn how to think or learn on your own anymore, they’re places to go to get a piece of paper that will hopefully get you a job. Never mind the fact that if done correctly a general college education can prepare you for MANY careers. With the right mindset a new grad could, in theory, be qualified for any job that gave them the right field-specific training and experience. Colleges aren’t about training flexible individuals now, they’re about training specialized, work-ready individuals, which is interesting considering many companies want to hire people who already have 3 or more years of experience anyway.

  2. Barbara · July 11, 2007 Reply

    Huh. I guess I might disagree, if only for the comments from some of my students last semester. One of my seniors said that she and her friends came to the realization that college was not a place where you get all of the answers. It was a place where you learned how to form really good and interesting questions.

  3. itsalljustaride · July 11, 2007 Reply

    For those institutions that DO still hold to the liberal education model, yes, it is just that, a place to learn how to form interesting questions, and those are the places who will be producing the brighter students. I think a lot of people who are just beginning college or who will be soon, unfortunately, do not realize that, and I don’t think the people doing much of the hiring for these people do either.

    I definitely see a good proportion of college students (maybe its just my university?) who bemoan gen-eds to no end, don’t get involved in any constructive activities, and have little interest in anything besides getting OUT of college as soon as possible and into a career.

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