We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
We do not know what "college" or "higher ed" mean anymore. I used to think of "college" as referring to Liberal Arts, but I am way out of date. Wasn't a liberal arts education always an elite thing except for the very curious and self-educated?
Lots of Higher Ed is work- or career-related these days.
The liberal arts education was/is the patina used to gloss over the college (undergraduate) part what we call higher ed. In reality, college is mostly athletics, social and competitive. And in recent years, activist/protest. Social justices impedes development of human capital. Without free and open dialogue, students will not learn to discipline their thinking, but rather to censor it. They will not learn to regulate their emotions, but rather to leverage them for personal advantage over others. And without discipline of intellect and regulation of emotions, that leaves only the establishment of principles part of the true meaning of education. What principles do students learn in the modern liberal arts program?
None of this is new, it is just higher ed changes so slowly, we see it laid bare now as all those trained to be educated have long retired leaving the institution to those who refuse to become educated on the whole.
When Dwight D. Eisenhower called the professors at Columbia, employees of the university, he was harshly corrected by their assertion that they, the professors were the university.
In the nearly fifty years, therefore, since the inauguration of Johns Hopkins, the progress of higher education in the United States has resulted in the transformation of our former American colleges into mixed institutions, part college, part university. In most the undergraduate college overshadows the university, in a few the university overshadows the undergraduate college, but in the main the institutions which we are building up under the name of university are incongruous mixtures of the sports and recitations of college boys, and the more serious and scholarly efforts of men and women who are primarily students and candidates for professions. In the public eye, the activities of the undergraduate college subtend a larger angle than those of the graduate and professional schools, and the public in the main conceives of the university in terms of its undergraduate college.
The university part of our mixed institutions consists of a graduate school, devoted to teaching and to research, certain professional schools in law, medicine, engineering, teaching, and, in some institutions, to theology. The graduate schools, apart from the professional schools, have suffered in considerable measure from the fact that they have been attended by a large body of students who are not primarily scholars or investigators. For the last twenty or thirty years every ambitious American college has felt that it could not maintain fair academic dignity unless its teachers were able to write after their names Ph.D. The graduate schools have been invaded, therefore, during the comparatively short period of their existence by an army of degree-hunters who desired the degree of Doctor of Philosophy as a preliminary to obtaining positions as teachers.
The mingling of college and university has its disadvantages for the undergraduate college no less than for the graduate university to which it is bound. The most serious is the weakening of the college sense of responsibility for good teaching. A false notion of research in the conglomerate institution has gone far to discredit the good teacher and to weaken the appreciation of the fact that the chief duty of the college is to teach.
A liberal arts degree has functioned as a substitute for the use of IQ tests for screening candidates for employment. Ever since the insidious "Griggs vs Duke Power" decision (with its odious invention of "disparate impact"), those have been made effectively illegal for employers to us (although the military still uses them-- they know that stupid people are more trouble than they're worth, so they screen them out). Since (at least at one time) a person needed to have an IQ of at least 100-105 to get through an undergraduate program, it was a useful (although expensive) proxy. Nowadays, I have my doubts even about that, considering the ignorance, functional illiteracy, and all-around uselessness of many "college graduates" these days.
>Wasn't a liberal arts education always an elite thing except for the very curious and self-educated?
Yes. In some ways, it it's like MBA i.e., 60% networking, 30% seminar, 10% skill development. The societal disconnect is that those kinds of programs are only helpful to a small percent of the population i.e., those who don't really need tangible skills to succeed.
This leads to a slight variant on Reynold's law: Subsidizing markers of traits doesn’t produce those traits; if anything, it punishes those who you are trying to help.