22 January 2010

Colleges Under Assault from the Real World

For many young people in North America, college is a place to go to party, to get away from the stresses of the real world for as long as possible, before entering the workforce.  But the outside world has a way of slipping through the bricks and mortar, bringing with it the cold winds of reality -- there may be no jobs for them when they leave partytown.
1.) Money – As the cost of colleges skyrockets, student loans and financing are becoming harder to get.

2.) Courses – Our existing semester and quarter-based college schedules are a poor match for today’s plugged-in, hyper-jacked students. Passed down from generations past, the current timetables for courses spread out over 8-12 weeks only works for an increasingly small segment of society, leaving most working adults to fend for themselves.

3.) Teachers – As new economic realities hits college campuses, their first impulse will be to cut staff. Some will attempt to limit the damage to wage freezes and curtailed hiring, but others will begin to roll out the pink slips.

4.) Classrooms – There has long been the pervasive notion that learning can only take place in a classroom. Even though schools use field trips and outdoor experiences to enhance education, the classroom remains a dominant central fixture in education today....However, classroom-centric education is not necessary for learning. Our need to physically “gather at the feet of the master” will be replaced with faster, easier systems for connecting thoughts and ideas.

5.) Credits - ...Credit-granting authority will be the most difficult area for outsiders to penetrate. But rest assured, when the economic foundation of colleges begins to feel shaky, the creative opportunists will begin to emerge.

6.) Status – Academic elites have long been drinking the Kool-Aid, espousing the gospel of superior standing in one’s community that can only be achieved through diplomas and scholarly achievement. With a record numbers of college graduates now unemployed and under-employed, the bragging rights have begun to tarnish. _ColoradoBiz_via_ImpactLab

University has been a refuge for dysfunctional adults as well. I am referring, of course to humanities and social sciences professors. As the assault on the well-entrenched redoubts of higher indoctrination proceeds, we may have the opportunity to watch many of these sinecured and self-assured brain binders turned out into the cold cruel world of real work.

Amusingly enough, it is the economic devastation driven by the political agenda of these societally superfluous profs that is squeezing college budgets and forcing many of the coming cuts in college employment. The average voter is not feeling very charitable toward tenured bureaucrats and academics with fat salaries and pensions -- particularly if he or someone he knows happens to be among the 20% or more unemployed or underemployed.

The prosperity that built the huge North American empire of education can be quickly wiped out by an Obama - Mugabe - Chavez style of bankrupting "social justice." But it is when the academics start losing their jobs as a result of their own agenda that "social justice" acquires its sweet ironic overtones.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I partially disagree with you. I think medicine, engineering and the hard sciences will remain entrenched in the colleges. However, most of the humanities will either be exposed as frauds, or will end up in cheaper private schools, such as the University of Phoenix.

Medicine may migrate to smaller private schools too, but that would take a lot of talent and effort to pull off. Most of the rot is in the social sciences, humanities and liberal arts, and I expect reality to hit there the hardest.

Recessions wring the waste out of economies, and I am glad to see this recession doing its work in this area.

Friday, 22 January, 2010  
Blogger Loren said...

I'd have to agree, the "hard" stuff will stay, they'll stick the history classes and liberal arts in the big lecture halls as much as they can.

I'd love to see a different approach to teaching. I'd appreciate a vigorous mixed lab/lecture that lasts a few hours every day, rather than an hour of lecture a couple times a week and a couple of hours of lab once a week.

Friday, 22 January, 2010  
Blogger Sojka's Call said...

From the perspective of a parent with one child a Mech Eng major and one a Communications major I see that the Eng major is finding his college experience very purposeful to his potential job/career after school. The Communications major really does not have any idea what they will do after school and is just optimistic that everything will work out OK. Hard sciences are really what should be taught in school with the humanities something to present the moral dilemmas for them to ponder at least a little. To Al's point though, the ME major constantly bemoans the "wasted" classes like sociology since it prevents him from taking useful classes like other engineering or math courses.

Saturday, 23 January, 2010  
Blogger JeffO said...

After years as an underpaid machinist, I went dumpster-diving, built a lab in my basement from thrown-away computers, taught myself for 18mo and quized-out. I basically gave myself a college degree in 1/3 the time and zero cost - except copious amounts of time.
But that's not for everyone. I'm glad we have colleges. For one thing, they set standards. They don't seem tos et standards real well, but who else would set them? Industry sets standards only by what they learn to expect from colleges.
Some labs can be built at home, and some can't. Depending on what field you're looking to get into, and how interactive the job, home-schooling isn't practical. Some learning can only be properly done interacting with peers and getting feedback every step of the way.

Sunday, 24 January, 2010  
Blogger Ugh said...

My daughter attends a public college with a mix of online and traditional classes. She said she loves the freedom of online classes but it has some drawbacks. Not having the instant feedback of her instructors to questions - e-mail responses can't read facial expressions and body language that would give the instructor a better sense if the student gets it or not. Plus the focus to the task at hand one gets in the classroom is also valuable, there are numerous distractions online...

One thing she doesn't miss when studying online is the interaction with the non teaching staff who all seem to hate their jobs and find the students to be a huge bother.

Monday, 25 January, 2010  

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