Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 12/30/13

December 30, 2013—Issue #223

This week’s focus point: We need to begin questioning the entire rational and structure of a college education, which too many people feel is de rigueur. The concept of brick and mortar campuses where thousands of students are housed, fed, clothed, and occasionally educated, is a configuration of the distant past. The crushing financial burden that graduates labor under to repay confiscatory tuitions drives people toward the wrong careers and retards their ability to perform and raise families. The emphasis on content–which can be found instantly at one’s fingertips–and not on the process of lifelong learning is antiquated. We are spending a fortune supporting tenured, light working professors and million dollar administrators while forcing students to begin their working careers ill-educated for tomorrow and burdened with yesterday’s debt. Where are the revolutionaries–the Washingtons or Bolivars–who can reform this burdensome, oppressive system? What are we doing to our kids?

Monday Morning Perspective: Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die. — former Senator Walter Huddleston

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2 Responses to Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 12/30/13

  1. Your thoughts on education are spot on. One of the issues with the tenure system is that once tenure is bestowed it is nearly impossible to lose. Most institutions will only revoke tenure for “gross negligence” – not for, say, failing to continue to mentor students, participate on committees, publish, research teach, or any of the other activities required in order to earn tenure in the first place. The other problem is that there is a disconnect between the generally well-intentioned advice of high school guidance counselors, underinformed parents and college recruiters, and the realities of the demands of employers. In Southwestern Ohio, manufacturing plants have abandoned sites for want of a workforce willing to put in a day’s labor performing “dirty” yet relatively well-paying jobs that only require vocational training or a two year degree. Right now there are 15,000 IT job openings in the region for positions requiring anything from a technical certification to a graduate degree (IT programs boast ~100% placement). Somehow young folks get the impression that amassing $100,000 in debt while pursuing an unmarketable degree – like English, History, Psychology, Political Science, or anything ending in “studies” – is a worthwhile life plan because of passion or love of the subject. The cost of the degree is only part of the issue; the ROI looks better for folks who have developed a skill set that employers need. I always tell students that if they must pursue their passion in college, at the very least they should minor in something that will make them employable.

  2. Alan Weiss says:

    I majored in poli sci, but it was an age of true liberal arts education, when you learned a language, science, and other vital subjects which made you educated, interesting, and desirable.

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