Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bogus Degrees

I've commented many times on bogus degrees offered by many colleges and universities, and this is just more fuel for the fire:
Degrees in sports administration and pop culture? Higher education seems to have drifted so far from its fundamental charge that, today, apparently anything can qualify for degree status.

What an injustice this is to students, who innocently believe that if a university thinks a subject important enough to make it into a degree, then they will be well-served by enrolling in it. There are those who blame such students for their bad choices. I am not one of them. I taught in universities for many years and I know the deference paid by most students to the standards articulated by their institution. After all, these are still kids, for the most part; offering them degrees in “pop culture” is perilously close to child abuse. Any academic or administrator who truly believes in both the employability and intellectual respectability of a degree in pop culture is both deceived and deceiving.

There was a time, not that long ago, when universities had a proper reverence for the life of the mind, a reverence that would have made them ashamed to offer such empty-headed degree programs to their students.

Apparently, that time has passed.
While I disagree with the author about "kids" and "child abuse", I agree that silly majors serve only a few--mostly the instructors, not the students.  Yes, there are some who can make a living in "sports administration" or even in "pop culture", but there are also a few who can make a living in "football" and "motion picture acting"--but that doesn't mean our institutions of higher education should be putting a lot of effort there.


Peter Reilly said...

I hsve been following the student loan crisis for a while now, mainly with guest posts. I think the odd majors may be part of the problem, although of course traditional liberal arts degrees present a similar problem. One of my readers submitted a cartoon, which I decided to run

There are photo galleries that our software allows us to associate with the posts and I thought the gallery on best college values would be appropriate. I didn't really look closely at the gallery.

When I went back to it I realized that there is something arguably fallacious about the gallery, since it puts the service academies at the top of the list. Given the committment required, I'd be more inclined to put them on the side as a special case, but I had another thought. Military service is not the only type of service that we need to be provided by people who are not operating in the free market. Would it make sense to try to apply similar principles to education for other professions ? I thought you would be a good person to put this question.

Anonymous said...

And when they do get a degree in Fluff, will they be surprised there are no jobs?

Oh but it won't matter, because the degree in Major Fluff helped them "find themselves".

Next up: Petitioning Congress for complete forgiveness of student debt.

Darren said...

Peter, the Forbes list considered such things as student loan debt, in $, of which a service academy graduate has none.

There are lots of government agencies that put people through college. I know a guy whose master's degree was paid for by his school district just because he was a minority. He's now making great money as a vice principal.... My point is that it's not only military service that is rewarded with a no-money-out-of-pocket education.

Peter Reilly said...

I was thinking about the issue more broadly. My understanding of what happens at the service academies is that it is a lot more than free college, which you obviously can comment on. Could similar principles be applied to other professions ?

The only other example I can think of is seminaries.

Sorry if my comment lacks coherence. I get that way sometimes.

Darren said...

I never liked the word "free", as we certainly worked for our education. As we said back in the day, it was a $180,000 education shoved up your @$$ a nickel at a time!

pseudotsuga said...

Yes, the Forgiveness for Student Loans is the next step. College for Nothing, and the Coeds for free! That's the way to do it!

Darren said...

We've got to install microwave ovens,
Custom kitchen deliveries....