education, whatnot

Changes in Focus for Higher Education

As a culture we are moving more and more towards commodifying everything. Some of these things make sense, others might not. Education and art are examples of things that should maybe shouldn’t be commodified.

Search employment postings for an admissions rep and see what you get (emphasis added):

ADMISSIONS REP
Are you aggressive? Motivated? Strong closer? Money hungry? Direct sales rep? We are looking for you for our well established Baltimore location. All leads provided. Exp. preferred but will train.

and

Admissions Sales Representatives also facilitate the student recruitment process through intensive interviewing that includes telemarketing, personal selling, and generating leads through corporate and community outreach.

More and more schools are shifting their focus. Education is a job requirement and people are enrolling based on who will make them the most tempting to employers. Higher education once meant becoming a better person and increasing your knowledge and understanding of the world, but today it has shifted to preparing its students for work. This transition in higher education towards the vocational is often celebrated. Many schools pride themselves on teaching “job skills” and increasing “employability” and promote these qualities first and foremost. We see this shift in students as well, ask one why they are there. Wanting to find a job will come up, usually after some quick lip-service about wanting to learn.

Which is more important? Which should be? Would every student in college or at a university be there if they could get a job without going? The answer may say a lot. More importantly are we comfortable with this shift and where it will inevitably take us?

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