In a Dec. 28 NY Times commentary titled Should the Obama Generation Drop Out?, Charles Murrary argues that “It’s what you can do that should count when you apply for a job, not where you learned to do it.” I know it might be heresy here in the land of cows, colleges and contentment but I tend to agree. Like Murray, I think many employers already believe that a bachelor’s degree has “become education’s Wizard of Oz.” He writes:
For most of the nation’s youths, making the bachelor’s degree a job qualification means demanding a credential that is beyond their reach. It is a truth that politicians and educators cannot bring themselves to say out loud: A large majority of young people do not have the intellectual ability to do genuine college-level work.
There are a couple pages of comments from readers on a page titled Should a College Degree Be Essential? Excerpts from two letters I like:
A greater emphasis on specific job skills in traditional high school education is needed. Language and mathematics will remain the pillars of our liberal academic institutions, but we also need carpenters, plumbers, electricians, machinists and more. Our schools should emphasize job skills for those not suited to traditional academic education.
Finally, someone dared to say what every college professor knows in her heart: half the students in her classroom shouldn’t be there and don’t want to be there. We have created this B.A.-B.S. grail for millions of students who would be far better educated if they could focus on something that they want to learn.
For 12 years, I was a professor of English at the flagship campus of a big state university. My students were majoring in computers, nursing, landscape design and kinesiology. They didn’t care about “Beowulf” or John Milton. The university wanted them there, however, because more four-year graduates meant more money from the legislature. Now we can no longer tolerate such waste.
We should redesign college curriculums so that students can study something useful, get a job and help redevelop the economy.