That's the question NY Post writer Karol Markowicz sought to answer in her column today. Given the fact that graduates today leave college with massive debt and slim job prospects -- only one in two graduates has a full-time job, and 40 percent of those jobs don’t actually require a four-year degree.
Colleges have long held themselves up as places of intellectual pursuits, not factories of future employees. But while universities may not see themselves as somewhere to prepare for a future career, it’s unlikely that students paying more than $100,000 for a four-year degree feel the same way.
Administrators aren’t above stringing the kids along, either. Students studying for a liberal-arts degree often hear they can do “anything” with it. That “anything,” however, could just as easily be nothing.
As for that intellectual growth: A study last year by professors Richard Arum (of New York University) and Josipa Roksa (of the University of Virginia) found that “45 percent of students show ‘no significant gains in learning’ after two years in college.”
So no jobs and no brains -- what about this scenario says "sign me up!"?
Markowicz suggests that universities should start reshaping their curriculum to meet the demands of society, not the other way around:
Maybe instead of “Shakespeare in Film” (much as I loved spending afternoons in class watching Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson), we need more courses that focus on resume-building, interview skills or other education often relegated to an understaffed Career Office.
All of college is a career office; it’s time institutions of higher education started accepting that.
This, of course, is a valid point, but perhaps we should go even farther. It's important to point out that ridiculously specialized classes don't prepare students for life or jobs as Markowicz does. Studying the role of women in 17th century Europe will not help you land a job today. (My apologies to all of you women's history majors out there.) Instead of continuing to debate the interest rates for federal student loans, how about we start debating whether taxpayers should foot the bill for higher education loans at all.