Written in 2016, I wrote this post after reading an essay about teaching students, “the art of being human.” I know that 2020 grads, especially those from low-income families, are facing extremely difficult times and an extraordinarily fragile economy. I’ve been using my Twitter feed, @tillman_marty, to post and comment on advice to students and provide perspective about how campuses are struggling to support students. So, it may appear glib or irrelevant to talk about anything other than finding a job. Nevertheless, it might be helpful to reflect on the issue of the “return” on one’s investment in obtaining a degree:
“Either you believe the purpose of going to college is to be able to secure a (preferably high-paying) job, or you think there is something more intrinsically valuable to be gained from the years spent earning a degree. As in how did your college experience shape your humanity?
My question is: When did these become mutually exclusive?”
In the cycle of life, it’s that time once again. Students are graduating from colleges and universities across the country and for many, the unanswered question is: Now what?
Shortly, NAFSA: Association of International Educators will conduct its annual international conference in Denver. And one of its major speakers is NY Times columnist, David Brooks. In thinking about graduation and what “place” lies ahead for millions of youths, I re-read his September 8, 2014 Times column, “Becoming a Real Person.”
Brooks references three different missions of the current university: commercial (preparing for work), cognitive (acquisition of information & knowledge), and moral purpose (building an integrated understanding of self). Of course, a week later, the Times published several letters to the editor from campuses around the country. The gist of these responses was that students should not have to choose one path over another.
A good follow-up to the Brooks column…
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