500 Words At A Time: Career Oriented Education

When did college become about getting a job? When did the focus shift from molding, shaping individuals into leaders, thinkers, and intellectuals capable of more than a mere job? Hell, when did job or career become the sole focus of a higher education and who in the hell decided that because they need a swift kick to the head or genitals.

If you are going to college or in the case of some us older folks to get a job you may be happy with your education. I am going to hazard the level of happiness has a lot to do with how much life you have lived prior to coming to college. If you, like me, have lived a reasonably rich life then you will be happy to get the job training necessary because you will have already learned via A.) prior education or B.) experiences that college does not seem to emphasize anymore. However, if you are young, say right out of high school then your level of happiness will be high upon graduation and then smashed to the floor when you learn as all people do that job skills are not all that a job is about…and you did not get much of that as part of your education. Oops.

I walked into this college experience, as you may have already surmised, with a trainload of experience. But even I was taken aback by how career/post-education job focused education has become. I was hoping for some flexibility in my degree and I got that flexibility both due to the nature of the program and because, as I have said a lot, I got lucky. Sandy was more than happy to get me into any class I wanted, thus I was able to explore (yes, even at my “age” I explored topics not familiar to me and I suggest everyone do that). I have seen other students who do not have that latitude to explore and find what is for them or not for them.

The “non-essential” classes such as English, literature, communications, philosophy, ethics, history, and the like are given a cursory or is it perfunctory “you must take X credits of this or that,” but after that X is hit, which is very small amount back to your degree focus. Perhaps from the most minimalization view point about life and jobs focusing on the essentials of that job makes sense. But isn’t a job about more than the work?

Putting my managers hat back on, pardon me while I knock the dust off it; if an employee could not communicate effectively they were a liability to the daily operations and soon let go. If an employee could not put one and two together to get more than three-i.e. see the big picture or at least understand that there was a bigger picture, they were either relegated to the most menial of tasks or let go because I could not count on them to think about more than what was in front of them. These are not skills that I, as an employer, have the time or inclination to teach a person. I have the time and inclination to teach them job skills. Unfortunately, those skills are being taught in higher education and the other skills that take time to develop and learn, say about 4 years, are not or at least they are not being emphasized.

From my own degree I can attest that a good portion could have been taught on the job. This means that I would have had less “job” classes and more classes that would have allowed me to explore topics of interest, to learn more about how the world works and worked, and to think about anything other than “will I get a job?” The answer to that question is, most likely you will get a job, but what if and I am only speaking from experience here, what if the job you trained for turns out to the job you hate…then what?

Back to school…

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