Is College a “Toll Booth on the Road to Employment”?

Written by on May 4, 2007 in News and Views - 2 Comments

Over at AlterNet, Barbara Ehrenreich offers a unique take on the recent MIT scandal. A little background: the university’s Dean of Admissions was fired for having lied about her education on a resume she used to get a secretarial job at the university 28 years ago.

Ehrenreich suggests that the dean was fired because the university was scared – not because the dean was unable to do a good job, but because she had proved that she was very capable of completing her work. Which, of course, raises the question: Why should she have to have a degree if she is capable of doing the work without one?

Here’s why Ehrenreich believes employers prefer applicants with college degrees:

“My theory is that employers prefer college grads because they see a college degree chiefly as mark of one’s ability to obey and conform. Whatever else you learn in college, you learn to sit still for long periods while appearing to be awake. And whatever else you do in a white collar job, most of the time you’ll be sitting and feigning attention…

Or maybe what attracts employers to college grads is the scent of desperation. Unless your parents are rich and doting, you will walk away from commencement with a debt averaging $20,000 and no health insurance. Employers can safely bet that you will not be a trouble-maker, a whistle-blower or any other form of non-“team-player.” You will do anything. You will grovel.

College can be the most amazingly enlightening experience of a lifetime. I loved almost every minute of it, from St. Augustine to organic chemistry, from Chaucer to electricity and magnetism. But we need a distinguished blue ribbon commission to investigate its role as a toll booth on the road to employment…”

I certainly don’t condone resume lying, but I think this article makes a good point. College can be a useful experience, but it shouldn’t be the determining factor of employment. Job applicants should be judged on their knowledge and abilities – not on a piece of paper.

To read the complete article see: Higher Education Conformity

2 Comments on "Is College a “Toll Booth on the Road to Employment”?"

  1. Earendil May 12, 2007 at 2:26 pm · Reply

    Very good point. I’m currently looking into autodidactism resources et al.

    This reminds me of J.J. Luna’s book “Skip College: Go Into Business For Yourself”.

  2. Princess Haiku May 31, 2007 at 11:58 pm · Reply

    Excellent discussion.

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