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Thursday, April 25. 2013
It seems to me that much of the discussion of "mission" has to do with confusing "higher ed" with Liberal Arts education. I do not know how much of Higher Ed today is Liberal Arts and how much is vocationally-oriented (eg Nursing, Agricultural, Hospitality, Education, Law Enforcement, Business, Engineering, Communications, Performance Arts, etc etc, but I know that a lot of it is.)
Cornell for example, a strange hybrid of state university and private university, has 7 undergrad colleges. Only one of their undergrad schools is Liberal Arts, and many large universities are similar. It's been many years since "college" has meant Liberal Arts.
I think most of the angst is only about the "mission" and "purpose" of Liberal Arts higher ed. Nobody is confused about the "mission" or "purpose" of degrees in Nursing or Civil Engineering.
If any reader can find those Higher Ed stats, I'm sure we'd all be interested. Specifically, I'm interested in what % of US undergrads are attending vocationally-oriented colleges and programs compared to those doing Liberal Arts programs.
Thanks for comments and help, readers. From Undergraduate Fields of Study, info below -
In 2009-2010, "college" in the US yielded 800,000 Associate degrees and 1.7 million Bachelors degrees.
"College" doesn't mean what it used to mean. It used to mean Liberal Arts but now it can mean Hotel Management. The change has already happened.
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There are two kinds of people at the university, those learning to do something useful for other and Liberal Arts majors.
From the comments at the article:
Andrea E - NY - NYT Pick
Nothing centers the mind like writing the first of 4 checks for $55,000. Considering the prospect of being jobless after spending over $200,000 is not necessarily an anti-intellectual exercise. More likely a prudent one.
April 21, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.
While I was reading the article it occurred to me. You know what you never hear? You never hear students questioning the relevance to their life after school of some gender studies class like they do in math class.
I wonder if that is because the misogyny inherent in the Illiad has ready apparent relevance. Or could it be because as long as they regurgitate whatever the Prof says they get an A whereas in Calculus you have to learn how to solve the problem?
I did read many of the comments. Fascinating. But then these are people who actually read the New York Times. I went to college long ago enough that none of my professors ever revealed their own personal politics. That really dates me.
I am fascinated with the Left's incessant accusations of "right-wing hate" and "right-wing hate groups" while accusing Conservatives/Republicans of the most improbable "hate crimes" in usually vile language, and wanting those on the right to be banned, outlawed, disposed of — because we disagree (and should I add- cite evidence?). It is a pathology I really don't quite understand. Republicans may think the Left is doing great damage to the country, but we just want them out of office, not dead!
Undergraduate fields of study
Depends on how you grade "liberal arts" versus "vocational."
Is "business" (20%) vocational? I suppose it is, but in my experience it was a blowoff major. People who majored in "business" didn't expect to run a business, they just wanted a Bachelor's degree as a job entry requirement.
Are "social sciences and history" (10%) liberal arts or vocational?
I would consider Healthcare, Education, Engineering, Biological, Law Enforcement, Computer, Agriculture and Physical Sciences to be the "vocational" degrees. Combing these, you get around 30%.
This is a critical distinction. If "higher ed" means mostly Liberal Arts then the consternation over graduates ending up in jobs that don't require a degree.
Since, as many of the Liberal Arts educators have argued, a Liberal Arts degree is not designed to provide job skills, having a Liberal Arts degree is independent of having skills to do something useful for others. So the two, BA and degree requiring job, are independent of each other.
In fact, the expansion of those with college degrees into the non-college skill jobs is a natural consequence of the expansion of college attendance. We still need such work done, the a larger portion of the available employee pool has college degrees so naturally, more of those doing such work will have a degree.
But shouldn't we want janitors, taxi drivers, sales clerks, etc. to be the better citizens with wider horizons that the Liberal Arts degree is promoted as producing? True, maybe not at $200,000 a pop but that's simply a distorted market.
CORRECTION If "higher ed" means mostly Liberal Arts then the consternation over graduates ending up in jobs that don't require a degree....is misguided.
I was just on a project in Mississippi and saw a sign for a local Bible College. I googled the school to see what a Bible College curriculum looked like. Basically a general studies Associates degree (which you took at any Community college) plus two years of biblical Greek and Hebrew and a variety of theological and church management courses.
This looked like a plausible version of Harvard in colonial times. Not a bad bunch of guys.
At 4 year universities, even if a student majors in something sensible, the schools require that they take a bunch of classes that are useless at best and political indoctrination at worst. It's to make sue the student has a "well rounded" education, or something.
Progressive Nomenklatura types control the administrations at the universities now. there's no hiding in a particular college.
And those "general ed" classes used to be the traditional liberal arts, or at least something like music, art or film appreciation. Expanded your horizons.
Now, you have what my niece go stuck with, at a big regional university, the class was amusingly called 'Liberal Arts'. The content was something to do with this or that and rap music. Not exactly great books or even exposure to the finer things.
My niece ran into ideological differences with what passed as an instructor. I advised she could stand her ground, fail, lose the tuition money, etc. Or write what ever the moron wanted and never look back at "liberal arts".
It would be nice to have a good liberal arts education but that doesn't really exist in most schools anymore. When so many wax nostalgic about college, they speak of something that doesn't exist, isn't offered and is better achieved by developing a reading habit.
As this post demonstrates, college is no longer what most start arguing for. Oddly, even those still teaching in higher education. I have little pity for the poor professor who went along to get along and now finds his future in jeopardy because what came along was a Progressive bus that ran down the humanities as it tried to cross metaphysical street.