Liberal arts colleges, reports The Wall Street Journal, are fighting for survival. With good reason ...
Most of my Millennial clients have never taken in a live performance or even a film rendition of William Shakespeare.
They smirked when I asked them about that.
Their enterprises are thriving because they 1) understand how to make money 2) have a background to operate in a niche which is in demand.
The issue is: Can liberal arts institutions of higher education adequately prepare students to enter the current workforce? - And then can those alumni navigate the many odd twists and turns earning a living entails? Since the turn of the century I have had two comebacks.
Let's be pragmatic. The decision to attend a particular college or university has become, for most, a financial transaction. The incoming student, the reality is, had made a major investment in a scenario about long-term employability.
But, this isn't really new. I am from the Class of 1967 at Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pennsylvania. It was and remains a liberal arts Roman Catholic institution of higher learning. The year 1967 is obviously a long time ago. Highly verbal. I majored in English. That's where I could star.
That whole enchilada represented naïve thinking.
My career might have had fewer bumps in the road if I had invested my money and future in a state university where I majored in learning a skill I could market immediately when I received my degree. Someone smart should have clued me in: You don't have to be a star in what you do for a living. What will matter is 1) There is demand and 2) You are smart at playing the game.
Of course, demand changes. What I wound up selling after struggling for years trying to land a good job wasn't marketable around 2001. Now, it's in demand again. What counted was and is that I had become clever at repurposing my skills and experience. Had I gotten the hang of that during my formal education, my work life might have been less trauma-filled.
What is new, though, is that even surviving as the struggle goes on to put together a marketable skill and good game is more difficult. The competition is stiff for those $9.50 jobs. How long they last is also up in the air.
What should be the criteria for investing in a formal education? Primarily the track record of the alumni in landing decent paying work and then on their feet over and over again as the marketplace keeps shifting.
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