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Scary and Sad

2006-05-07

The big question is: should college education focus on providing the students with readied ability to find jobs after students' graduation?

The answer from this tea brewer is a definitely NO.

There should be other arrangements for college graduates to develop such readiness. For example, industrial companies can provide on-the-job training, or some vocation-training centers can be established outside the universities.

The universities should not be expected to get intertwined with job hunting or job training. The most primary concern of mine is that, if universities start being expected to do so, they will be soon exploited by industrial companies.

Teaching the computer software package mentioned in the previous essay is a stark example. The package is a commercialized one, developed by a company headquartered in Boston. The company, of course, desires to grow and expand. What is the best way to grow and expand? Penetrate into the college campuses. Make professors and students to become loyal users of the packages.

Powerful corporations are no dummies. They see both the immense potential and the vast market on college campuses, too. University students conveniently provide cheap labors. University professors are hungry for so-called “research” contracts and grants. So are university administrators. Hence, feeding these academic folks some money yields many-fold returns.

Some magazine companies also see the opportunities of increasing their readership. Hey, how about becoming an authority that ranks the universities? Harvard first, Stanford second, etc. Pretty soon, every high school student and her parents, high school counselors, college chairmans, deans, and industry employee recruiters all must get hold of a copy of such an annual ranking report.

(By the way, publications of Consumer Reports are to protect consumers and the masses. Publications of such reports on university rankings, however, are to protect wealthy families and their kids. When a certain university becomes famous, it can rightfully increase its tuition. Thus, in general, only those who can afford are able to enter.)

Furthermore, the popularity of these ranking reports gives college administrators legitimate excuses, and also the pressure, to greatly encourage professors to reach out to attract contracts and grants, primarily because the ranking of their universities is tied with these educators’ fame, pay raises, promotion, and power. And the ranking is closely associated with the research dollars. High ranking also attracts applicants for admission.

The flaw of such a trend does not yet include other issues:

(1) There are too many fundamental subjects for a student to learn in four college years. If she must spend time in job-related subjects, her learning of fundamentals inevitably will be reduced.

(2) Colleges should be open for students of all ages who desire to learn, not just for youngsters who plan to plunge into the job market immediately after graduation.

(3) Gradually, industrial companies may become the boss who dictates the directions of college education. In fact, this phenomenon is happening now. Scary and sad, indeed.

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