An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.
Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin.
In the second article we are told that college degrees are so expensive that perhaps career-related certificates are the way to go:
Omid Khofasani wants to be a pharmacist — without taking on huge student loans.
So the 35-year-old is paying about $1,700 for a nine-month course at nearby Foothill College that leads to a pharmacy technician certificate and a chance to earn a solid middle-class wage of up to $60,000 a year as he works his way through pharmacy school.
"It's short, it's fast and it's cheap," says Khofasani, who earned an engineering degree in Iran but now works at a carpet store.
Labor economists and some educators believe career-driven degrees should become an increasingly common choice and are advising students to pursue skills-oriented fields of study they feel offer better job opportunities. Fueling the trend is the worst economic decline in more than 70 years and a slowly falling unemployment rate of 9.4 percent. Add to that the staggering total of $830 billion in student debt nationally.
Having received a high-quality liberal education myself, I'm not sold on the idea that it's better just to get job training. When done well (and correctly), there is much value to be gained from having a broad education. On the other hand, given the crap courses to which too many gravitate today (aggrieved victim studies, for example) which are entirely illiberal, perhaps a certificate that enables a middle-class career isn't such a bad thing.