As we consider ways to reform higher education in our country, it’s important that we look past job markets and financial gains, and consider the qualitative benefits that higher education can still offer to students. As we’ve seen—via the information provided above, and through other studies—colleges and universities don’t always live up to their promises. But the student who desires to learn, for its own sake, will always receive benefits from college—and, if the Gallup survey is correct, from the working world, as well.Late in my career, I discovered Andrew Delbanco's College, wherein he quotes (p. 29) Oxford moral philosopher John Alexander Smith. "Gentlemen, nothing that you learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life -- save only this -- that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education." My instincts have been correct all these years. Without the Oxoninan background, I've been counseling my charges to develop working jive detectors, a skill that, if anything, is more valuable in the presence of presentation software that makes the display of virtual lipstick on real pigs easy for even the most primitive of prevaricators.
WHY IT MATTERS.
Higher education, properly viewed, is a profoundly conservative enterprise.