Vocational education gets toehold in colleges

Finally, there’s some good news about higher education.  A growing number of private and religiously affiliated colleges and universities are making vocational education an integral part of t he curriculum (“One Way to Make College Meaningful,” The New York Times, Feb. 3).

They’re doing so because they correctly understand that a vocation is not only a calling but also a means to a well-paying job.  Not surprisingly, these schools have seen their graduation rates increase at a significantly higher rate of growth than in a random sample of peer institutions.  When students see a direct connection between what they are studying and their future, they become immediately engaged.

Critics assert that vocational education will harm academic education. Even if that is true, I submit that the cost of a four-year degree today calls into question the pecuniary value of a liberal arts degree when student loan debt is factored in.  Learning for learning’s sake no longer is enough.  Students rightfully demand more.

Further, I question if higher education is where the disinterested pursuit of pure knowledge actually occurs.  We see evidence of this on a regular basis.  Professors teach only politically correct material, lest they find themselves vilified by students and administrators.

There was a time when few young people continued their education beyond high school.  As a result, a bachelor’s degree in any subject was enough to virtually guarantee a good job.  But the proliferation of degrees today means that what is studied is more important.  That’s why I hope vocational education continues to invade colleges and universities.

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