Great Conversation Brewing over the Necessity of the University

We’ve started some REALLY interesting conversation about the Necessity of University as our kids are heading back to school in the next few weeks.  If you haven’t seen the conversation, be sure to go back a blog or two, and see the premise.

The Questions are simple, but sometimes invasive.

1.  Is University Worth the Time and Resources?
2.  What is the necessity of going to University today?
3.  Is University the only way to live through the rhythm of growing up?
4.  What are the lessons you learned when you went through the University?

Some of the commentaries from yesterday are incredibly helpful to understand what’s really going on around the world.  Michelle wrote:

The thought that stands out the most after years of employees coming and going is work ethic!!! The best employees have a good work ethic. This covers so many areas. Attitude of being asked to work in areas not their specialty, doing things right and no short cuts, treating your customers well when you are not in the room, not bringing your baggage to work, not stealing and calling in sick when your are not sick, efficient use of time, etc. this is number one in any profession and employers also should not take advantage of these people as well. They should be rewarded. We do need to know what skills are needed for the future as well. Kids need to be able to get jobs when they come out. Universities should have a good grasp of what the future holds for graduates.

I couldn’t agree more.

It seems like the University continues the way we do education through secondary school; mainly sitting at a desk or working in a lab, but rarely are students held accountable for a good work ethic.  Recently, I saw a survey of the average  grades at the Ivy League schools over the last decade.  The article referenced that students today expect to be awarded a “B” for just showing up.  And the graph showed just that.  Over the last decade the average grade point for Ivy League school graduates has increased by almost a letter grade.

Another comment from Suzi:

My daughter, an English Major who is also getting Teacher Certification asked this question, So when I get done with all these classes, am I going to know how to do my job?” The answer is a resounding “no”. While I believe the universities do educate, they spend 1-2 years repeating high school course work instead of training classes that would actually apply to the major. Job training happens once graduation occurs. I am also an education major. During college I prepared and taught one lesson in 4 years. There has got to be a better way.

Maybe it’s time to check our University’s ability to teach students how to struggle for skills in the real world.  Over and over again, I hear from employers who try to hire fresh University graduates, and there’s something missing.  A large majority are missing important real world experience.  Thanks Suzi.  I think you’re spot on.  Education can’t simply be a think tank of learning.  There has to be something combining knowledge with real world practical experience.

But we can’t discount the fact, University helps students understand how to grow up.  Kim wrote:

I transitioned to the real world in college. That transitions helped hone some life skills. How to manage a budget. How to compete against talent from different cultures and different upbringings. I learned how to manage the consequences of my decisions; sleeping in, skipping class, pulling an all nighter to meet a deadline. How to take ownership of my work product. Others may have learned similar skills in the work force or perhaps earlier in High School. I leaned how to compete in the work force in graduate school. College taught me who I was.

And this is, at least what I think, is the hardest part of examining the need for higher education.  There are so many good ways to grow up and learn who you are, sometimes it may seem like if questioned, we’ll all be missing out on this important transition from KID to ADULT.

I agree, University can help us understand the consequences of our actions.  How to eat.  How to sleep.  How to manage time.  How to compete.  All of these important for integration into the real world.  But what does the University offer that any well healed adult might not learn outside of the framework of $100K on campus living?

Let’s keep pushing.

Is the University Necessary for Today’s world?  Or, is it time to re-invent a new way of education?  And as you think about it, take a look at this article.  The future looks bright, but not for traditional education.

The Future of Higher Education

1 Comment

  1. Our country now has our first generation of parents who are mostly college educated. And immediately we want to tell them/us that they made a mistake by attending. That is a tough pill to swallow. Even still, many of us parents are willing to at least question our own experience in spite of the benefits of it. I do not think that the university experience itself is the problem. More of it has to do with the funding of the university experience. Could it be less expensive? Absolutely. Is higher education an experience to which all are entitled? What about residential higher education versus commuter higher education?

    As I see high school graduation coming like a freight train, our family talks a lot about this. It frames our expectation for our daughters’ academics and extra-curriculars. It also frames our current budget. But we also must frame expectations. Not just for college, but for life. What are we doing today to help our children prepare to be successful? What is success? Those are the toughest questions and they will determine if and when college is the right choice for them.

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