HomeSchool Reform NewsAcademics Debate Purpose as Young Forgo College

Academics Debate Purpose as Young Forgo College

Academics debate purpose of higher education as young people increasingly pass on a college education, reports Paideia Times.

Purpose of Higher Education?

What is the purpose of higher education? And how should leaders of those institutions act in light of that purpose? These are questions that serve as a source of perennial conflict for all those who care about the state of higher education in the modern world. Patricia McGuire, president of Washington Trinity University, makes the case that university presidents should not shy away from social and political activism and “not concede the public forum to the voices that disparage and denounce our very existence.”

McGuire bemoans the “dumbing down of the purpose of higher education,” which reduces it to little more than sophisticated job training, and denounces legislatures that have passed laws that exercise more direct control over what public universities teach. But not everyone is convinced that activism is the proper role for higher education and its leaders.

Social psychologist Johnathan Haidt takes issue with the idea that universities can or should have a goal other than the disinterested pursuit of truth, believing that doing so compromises the purpose of the university, which then undermines its ability to serve its function and, in turn, decreases trust in the institutions.

Similarly, Anthony T. Kronman argues that declines in genuine philosophical inquiry in favor of what he calls the “research ideal” and the “culture of political correctness” has “undermined the legitimacy of the question itself and the authority of humanities teachers to ask it.” He contends that the big questions about meaning and purpose remain relevant to higher education and should not be subjected to either the imperative to contribute original research or to “politically correct” activism.

Why Young People Say No 

Why are so many young people opting out of college?

According to a new study of 18- to 30-year-olds that was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, money is the main obstacle to attaining a college degree. However, psychological factors like stress and uncertainty are also important.

More than one-third of respondents, 38 percent, said they didn’t want to take on debt or that college was too expensive, while 26 percent said it was more important to work and earn money. Meanwhile, 27 percent said college was “too stressful” or “too much pressure,” and 25 percent said they were unsure about their majors or future careers.

Although college affordability matters, young people would also welcome support in other areas—e.g., free personal finance classes, more flexible programs, financial aid advising and job counseling. Alternative modes of education are increasingly valued. Almost half of respondents—47 percent—have taken a class on YouTube.

Originally published by Paideia Times. Republished with permission.

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Paideia Times
Paideia Times
Paideia Times reports on higher education issues.


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