A new survey by IHE probes parents’ attitudes to higher education. As we have all suspected, parents (more than students) are the big problem. For example, more parents believe that not going to college at all will lead to better jobs than getting a liberal arts degree does. Here’s part of the story (Butr don't miss the graph which my blog won't reproduce.
"For many education leaders who promote the idea of liberal education (and who don't see that as inconsistent with preparing for careers), some of the responses are frustrating.
"Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said that she viewed "all of the above" as the "correct answer" on the purpose of college. But she said that the results reflected the reality that many people believe in a dichotomy between education that prepares one for a job and education that encourages critical thinking and other valuable qualities.
"In particular, she said that there is a problem for liberal arts colleges and disciplines in that there is a "very confused and ill informed understanding of what one means by the liberal arts" in the public at large. The AAC&U has conducted a series of surveys of employers on what they look for in college graduates, and has a new survey coming out next month.”
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/jobs-value-and-affirmative-action-survey-parents-about-college#ixzz2O5Xi0pZk
The parents are right, I think, in worrying that in this economy (still) college graduates often find it hard to get a decent job. But they are making a big mistake if they urge their kids to aim low. The challenge is to get them (and their kids) to aim high – both in the type of job they seek and in the long-run career satisfaction. We have to get the word “satisfaction” into their vocabulary. What will convince them?
One college president told me that he was finding the key was a successful internship program, available to all students. That way they see, and can convince their parents, that studying material they truly enjoy has spill-over effects in a tough job market. Parents need to hear that and as well stories of liberal arts majors who have aimed high, and are experiencing high levels of satisfaction in their work. More important, students (both high school and college) need to meet people like themselves who know what a difference a liberal education can make.
So one starting place is to make sure that your college has such an internship program, well-designed for all students, not just vocational majors.