Sunday, October 19, 2008

Side Effect

I've noticed the proliferation of schools that aren't so much places of higher learning as they are factories for future white collar workers. I'm not talking about diploma mills that require only tuition and attendance (and are not even strict with the latter) to graduate. I mean schools that offer computer and business degrees that are little more than a series of seminars conducted over eight semesters.

Advertising themselves like deodorant, these schools take TV spots and use popular endorsers (who aren't even alumni) to attract the young and gullible. Some have even gone all-out on the sales promo, offering discounts and other perks to early enrollees, which, for me, casts aspersions on the quality of their service.

But I digress.

These schools generally offer programs that focus on learning how to operate software or write a barely recognizable (much less feasible) business plan. And there's really nothing wrong with that except they're NOT college degrees.

Being inducted into the ranks of the learned means knowing certain things and having certain skills that go beyond (or are basic to) whatever it is you need to know to land a job. A bachelor's degree that teaches you skills that anyone else can get from a series of weekend seminars or self-help books isn't exactly higher learning. There should be a difference between a degree-holder in business and an entrepreneur who graduated from the school of hard knocks.

College is, or needs to be, more than just a ticket to employment. While a degree will definitely increase one's chances of landing a job, it really isn't the point. Desirability in the job market is a side effect, not the ultimate goal, of being highly educated.

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