We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they’ve got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go. ~ Timothy Leary
I was drawn to this quote by Timothy Leary today. Perhaps I was drawn to the quote because he speaks to a reality that has been close to my heart for a long time. I continue to be concerned about education, specifically higher education, in the context of our society today. Many of my readers have endured my rants throughout this past year regarding the value of a university education. Don’t get me wrong, I believe strongly that knowledge is power and that education is a critical force for positive growth and change. What I do not know, however, is whether or not our universities are serving our students and meeting their needs.
This, of course, then has a knock-on effect (or “trickle-down effect”, depending on the term you personally prefer) on our high schools. If our high school curriculum and demands are driven by university admissions requirements, yet our universities are not really serving our students, are we not potentially failing our students from 9th grade on?
I should be careful about what I write – our universities are not failing all of our students – the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University recently released research showing that 49% of recent college graduates had full-time jobs within the first year of finishing school. Add to that, those employed 49% need the job in order to pay back a mountain of student loan debt. The other 51% have no way to pay back their debt. Our economy is hurting and jobs are not easy to find.
We have another problem as well – many of the traditional blue-collar positions are being outsourced to developing countries where labor is cheaper. Individuals who are suited for hands-on positions are struggling to find work and are now heading to college, only to be out of work four years later and in debt. America lost a large portion of its economic stability to corporate greed and there is not an easy way out. Capitalism is crashing……. as greed got the best of the system.
I do not have the answers (I have said this many times), but I challenge myself to seek to find answers – I need to as I do not want to fail the students in the educational systems I am serving. I care deeply for my students and their families and I want to believe I am assisting to equip them to survive and even thrive in the world of tomorrow. While I do not yet know how we are going to solve these issues, what I do know is that we MUST teach our children to be adaptable, flexible, creative and innovative. These are the skills that will allow them to forge paths toward financial stability and will give them the ability to adapt to the ever-changing job market they will one day encounter.
Today, 38 days ’til 40, I yearn to work with my colleagues to address these concerns and ultimately help the 51% of current college graduates who are struggling. Additionally, we need to assist our future college graduates – facilitating a way for all of these individuals to get off the path to nowhere and on a path to somewhere.