What does it mean to get a college degree?

graduation-sceneThis has been one of the issues I have been struggling with, not only as a college instructor but also as the parent of college students.

I found an interesting article online, The Meaning of the Baccalaureate.

What are students taking away from their college educations, and what are they bringing to their states in terms of intellectual capital? In other words, what do they know and what can they do? (4) The core set of capacities that policymakers would like to see in college graduates—critical-thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills—is one that I think academicians can accept. (5)
…In the postindustrial, postinformation age, a great many people need to be mentally prepared the way only the elite used to be—capable of shaping, rather than simply being subject to the effects of, the historical changes that will create the context for their lives. (6)

In the article, Margaret A. Miller goes through the National Education Goals, particularly goal six. These were goals for the year 2000, which has passed and which we have not met. They make an interesting read all by themselves.

Every major American business will be involved in strengthening the connection between education and work.

All workers will have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills, from basic to highly technical, needed to adapt to emerging new technologies, work methods, and markets through public and private educational, vocational, technical, workplace, or other programs.

The number of quality programs, including those at libraries, that are designed to serve more effectively the needs of the growing number of part-time and midcareer students will increase substantially.

The proportion of qualified students, especially minorities, who enter college, who complete at least two years, and who complete their degree programs will increase substantially.

The proportion of college graduates who demonstrate an advanced ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and solve problems will increase substantially. [emphasis mine -ed.]

Schools, in implementing comprehensive parent involvement programs, will offer more adult literacy, parent training and lifelong learning opportunities to improve the ties between home and school, and enhance parents’ work and home lives.

I wonder why we think we need more college graduates, although I agree with college grads being able to think critically, communicate effectively, and solve problems.

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