A Fundamental Shift in University Thinking Since 2008



  • Read: As Humanities Majors Decline, Colleges Try to Hype Up Their Programs - The Great Recession scared a lot of students away from the humanities. Now administrators are trying to bring them back. from The Atlantic

    Some really interesting stuff in here. One, and I think we've all see the move towards STEM in the last twenty years, when I was in school we didn't even have terms for things like this, is that the move towards STEM degrees began with the Great Depression as an emotional reaction to that large scale economic event. The other is that prior to 2008, students going to college were going "to learn about things that interested them", but since then are going "to get a better job."

    This is an important shift in thinking and comprehension of the college process and purpose. We know that schools have changed how they present higher education in the K12 years, giving students a very false promise of what college will provide. Perhaps this is the core of the issue. But somewhere around 2008, high school graduates started thinking of college being something very different than it had always been. Maybe this is when the shift to "everyone goes to college" instead of only those that understood why they were there started, that alone could explain the giant shift. But fundamentally, it appears that students don't understand what college is for, and potentially our push for all students to see STEM as success and humanities as a failure has failed in explaining what we really meant.



  • @scottalanmiller said in A Fundamental Shift in University Thinking Since 2008:

    But fundamentally, it appears that students don't understand what college is for

    So, then, what is your opinion of what college is for... or should be for?



  • @Obsolesce said in A Fundamental Shift in University Thinking Since 2008:

    @scottalanmiller said in A Fundamental Shift in University Thinking Since 2008:

    But fundamentally, it appears that students don't understand what college is for

    So, then, what is your opinion of what college is for... or should be for?

    It's always been, and colleges have long pushed this, that it was for exposure, broadening how you think... it was for those with enough money that they didn't have to work right away but could afford time off to explore things that interested them or make them more interesting. It was never for getting a job, or getting ahead in a job. That people think that it is for that is an extremely recent thing (like definitely since I was in college.) Even in the last fifteen years major colleges have made statements that they are not there for those purposes.

    The idea that college is for getting a job is weird, people have started confusing trade schools (those that teach "a job") with universities (those that teach liberally) and in the last two decades, very quickly, people think that traditional colleges are actually trade schools and try to treat them that way. But while expectations have changed, the colleges have not (and should not.) But this leads to the huge amount of lower income, lifetimes of debt, dissatisfaction with college results, etc. that we see today.

    Colleges have no system for preparing people for real world jobs. The entire tenure system guarantees that that is impossible - colleges simply can't have a staff capable of doing that kind of education. The design of the university system is for other purposes, and universities have generally been crystal clear about that, it's not hidden or secret or new... this is hundreds of years of this.

    That's why the number of people going to university in the past was so small, it was really only for the elite because normal people needed to work and pay the bills.


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