What is the Point of Higher Education?
Back in 2018, I wondered what the Point of Lower Education was. Specifically, I asked the question “what is on the list of things that a high school graduate ought to be able to do?” (More to the point, I wanted to know what should be on the list that, if s/he didn’t know it, we’d would we be able to say that the high school failed the student.)
It might be time to ask that about college.
If someone is holding a degree from a college, what is on the list of things that a college graduate ought to be able to do? (Indeed, again, I’d say that they should be things that if a college graduate could not do one of these things, then their college has failed them.)
Now, I know that the guy who was a Journalism major would have taken different classes than the woman who had an Electrical Engineering major so it doesn’t necessarily have to include stuff like “know how to pick up a soldering iron”. And so maybe we can split it up into two categories:
- What is on the list of things that a holder of a Bachelor’s of Science ought to be expected to be able to do? (To the point where a college student with a BS can be said to have been failed by their college if they can’t do them?)
What is on the list of things that a holder of a Bachelor’s of the Arts ought to be expected to be able to do? (To the point where a college student with a BS can be said to have been failed by their college if they can’t do them?)
And, hey, maybe there are differences between colleges as well. Maybe we can make distinctions between Community Colleges and State Compass Directional Colleges and State Universities and Small Liberal Arts Colleges and Ivy League Universities. So we can say that someone who graduates from a Community College with a BS can have a different list than someone from a SLAC with a BA. Sure.
But what can we (as a society!) reasonably expect from a College Grad that, if they aren’t able to do it, we can say “dang… you were failed by your education”?
(Featured image is “Pomp and Circumstance” by Herkie. Used under a creative commons license.)