What College is for and What it should be doing

College educations are only secondarily intended to empower the next generation of adults with work skills. They are primarily essential instruments of social engineering like public schools (which domesticate us and try to harmonize societal values), municipal and neighborhood programs (that foster community), our awesome military (which trains us in teamwork and honor) and religious institutions (to empower us with morality). Colleges manufacture a middle class, rooted in empirical knowledge and values of social mobility. ‘Middle class culture’ has successfully taken hold and won here (albeit the economics of ‘middle class’ are depreciating) and is now “American Culture’. So, success on that.

Now let’s get to career preparation. To be viable here, they need to be able to predict the future – or as in the case of research institutions, help define it. Then they can maybe anticipate roles needed in that ecosystem; but that would be initial at best. History shows repeatedly that the market evolves too quickly for educational institutions to keep up.

Institutions should focus on development of skills and domain expertise, including current market scans and deep understanding of the history for these domains so our kids can go into the world with a big picture understanding as well as hard skills to begin to make a contribution. Let them figure out what the future holds. They are the ones who will create it anyway.

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