The Motive of Education

Keeping the integrity of the academic industry is tough business. Sure, enrollments are up 70% since the fall of 2009, but what does it mean when they aren’t sticking around to finish? As David Leonhardt points out in his recent article Students of the Great Recession, the goal of getting high enrollment numbers has become just as important as high graduation rates these days. Drop out rates have increased invariably. Is the economy to blame? Leonhardt seems to think so. “When times are tough, you are less likely to be missing out on a good $20-an-hour job by being in class,” he says.

Of course, our economic downturn in the past few years could have adverse effects to enrollment. He’s quick to also point out that the less educated suffer the worst during these times, and this causes people to return to school to boost their resume appeal. It would appear that we as a nation have been able to successfully push college degrees as an appealing option, but we can’t seem to get our students to stick around. Is it this generation’s lack of attention span? The youth culture of materialism blasted through television sets? Or is our student population so high that the limited number of universities simply cannot house the growing numbers enough to teach them properly? After all, most community colleges and major universities across the nation have reported that they don’t have the classroom space or the resources to give an in-depth education.

Colleges have been procured to simply equip a student now with the bare minimum skills then ship them out into the job world with a degree tucked under their arm. They aren’t nearly as well rounded as in the past. In these harder times if a degree might not be enough to get you a job, then wouldn’t it make sense that the general mentality would be to save your money and take your chances without the help of a degree?

Is it college’s fault? It is possible. Universities and community colleges make millions in revenue each year from tuition payments and acquired fees. To say that they simply don’t have the funds to expand their academic enterprise would be ridiculous. Gaining enrollment leads to higher revenue for the school. If numbers are increasing with each year, then the goal to see them complete their education is irrelevant from a business standpoint.

This all seems to be an abuse of the academic system. As it’s been said numerous times on Purpose of Education, that true learning comes not only from the desire of the students to learn but also from the desire of the teachers to teach. Students are filled with propaganda that tells them getting a job is important, not growing and learning as a person. Schools make money off this notion, and do nothing to increase the quality of education within their facilities. If we want real change within our youth and within our school systems, we need a complete overhaul of motives and ideals. We must get to the roots of education and re-teach ourselves what it means to be educated.

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