Should colleges be judged by job success?

From staff and wire reports
January 31st, 2013

Gov. McCrory believes that public universities and colleges in North Carolina should be judged and funded based on how well they prepare students for the job market.

Should public colleges and universities be judged and funded primarily by how well they groom students for the job market?

Yes, they should, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, said this week in a radio interview with conservative talk-show host Bill Bennett, offering pointed criticism for college courses he says offer no path to jobs.

Citing the need for more engineers, technicians, and mechanics, McCrory said he has instructed his staff to draft legislation that could alter the way the schools are funded, “not based on how many butts in seats, but how many of those butts can get jobs.”

His comments drew fire from University of North Carolina system faculty and others who said higher education should teach more than job-specific skills. They also renewed debate about the purpose of a college education—and the value of liberal-arts instruction.

McCrory’s statement that he wants to change the way state universities are funded, rewarding those that are best at preparing students for jobs, hit a raw nerve with many in the state’s higher-education community who believe a university education should prepare a person for more than getting a job after graduation.

Anne Whisnant, a UNC history professor, said educators have taken to social media and other outlets to voice their concerns about the governor’s placing primary value on students landing a job after earning degrees.

“One aspect is that the governor apparently does not have a deep understanding of a liberal-arts education,” Whisnant said.

(Next page: What is the mission of a public university?)

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3 Responses to “Should colleges be judged by job success?”

Listen, people— I’ve been in college for almost ten years now. I’m currently working on a doctorate. I’m fed up with colleges caring more about enrollment than about our lives after we graduate. We go to school to learn about the world, gain confidence, improve communication skills, learn about ourselves…etc. All that stuff is wonderful. However, I have over $100,000 in student loans and I have to be able to pay that back. I’m getting a DOCTORATE and I STILL don’t have a job. (By the way, the military has ended the Student Loan Repayment Program in many fields, including mine. I know, because I’ve looked into it— despite how many people think it’s odd for a 32-yr-old doctoral student to look into military service. It’s not like I’m not willing to work!)

Sometimes, I get the feeling that colleges exist to provide college professors with jobs; I see very little being done to assist students with job placement after graduation. Shouldn’t colleges be held somewhat accountable for this, even big state universities? This isn’t 1970 where a liberal arts degree is the magical golden ticket to the middle-class lifestyle. When my parents graduated college, most of their peers had decent jobs two or three weeks later. Today, kids are still working at Taco Bell three years after graduating…if they are lucky.

Why do so many people seem to think we can’t do it all for students? If students are leaving college so well-rounded and ready to take on the world, shouldn’t employers be chomping at the bit to hire them? Doesn’t seem to be the case, so what’s going?

Also… I keep hearing, “A liberal arts education teaches students how to adapt to a changing world…etc.” That’s all great, but how about state universities? They don’t seem to be doing much to adapt to the changing world that we, as recent graduates, are inheriting. I guess it’s easy to lose touch when you have tenure and complete job security regardless of what is going on in the real world.

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