At one time, going to college/university was about expanding the mind to create an educated, thinking person. That’s why it was called ‘higher learning’. But how many go for that reason today? It’s all about the diploma to get that high paying job or any job that requires that piece of paper. Not that it’s a guarantee of anything, especially in this recession. And with so many online ways these days to get a diploma, is the full away-from-home college/university experience worth the cost? Aside from some more technical fields, is a two-year Associates degree better? Where should ‘expanding the mind’ fit into the push for vocational knowledge?
They’re the places you think of when you think of “college” — leafy campuses, small classes, small towns. Liberal arts colleges are where students ponder life’s big questions, and learn to think en route to successful careers and richer lives, if not always to the best-paying first jobs.
But today’s increasingly career-focused students mostly aren’t buying the idea that a liberal arts education is good value, and many small liberal arts colleges are struggling. The survivors are shedding their liberal arts identity, if not the label.
But schools like Adrian College, 75 miles southwest of Detroit and back from a recent near-death experience, offer something of a playbook.
First, get students in the door by offering what they do want, namely sports and extracurricular opportunities that might elude them at bigger schools. Offer vocational subjects like business, criminal justice and exercise science that students and parents think — rightly or wrongly — will lead to better jobs.
Exercise science??? Really?