For decades, work placement has been a crucial selling point for universities of all locations, acceptance rates, and prestige levels. Colleges advertising the median salaries of their recent alumni are common on college websites, and internships are often accompanied by college course credits.
Undergraduates often view general education requirements as unnecessary to earn their more specialized degrees, which typically become more career-oriented in the second half of bachelor’s programs.
However, many academics have a much older perspective on undergraduate programs. In a 2019 interview with Inside Higher Ed, Johann N. Neem, professor of history at Western Washington University, argues that colleges should focus on implementing a more comprehensive education system. In the interview, he provides the context for his book, What’s the Point of College?
“I just think one should go to college to pursue a liberal education. After that, if you want vocational training, you have to go to a technical college, take an apprenticeship or go to a higher or vocational school. But college itself is not meant to prepare for specific jobs, ”said Neem.
In his interview, Neem even goes so far as to call for the completion of the commerce major, claiming that they defeat the purpose of an undergraduate academic institution, which should focus on the liberal arts. .
“The case for ending the majors in business is quite simple. I start by asking: “What is the university for?” Majors or study programs that don’t match – and this can extend beyond business for certain health and technical specializations as well – have no reason to be there. I think no matter how much financial gain a business major may have, it hurts the types of foundational studies students should be doing. Said Neem.
However, as tuition fees continue to rise, it is difficult to see the university through the lens of traditional academics like Neem. Total student loan debt in the United States reached an all-time high of $ 1.5 trillion in 2020. For most students, obtaining a technical or graduate degree immediately after college doesn’t is not a financially viable option.
Perhaps in an ideal world, all undergraduates could focus their attention on liberal arts and book professional training for another program. For many students, however, using their bachelor’s degree as a tool to pay off their loans is the best option they have for building a financially stable life.