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Higher Ed: Where The Bottom Line Is Supposed To Be More Than The Bottom Line

Has higher education become a “profit” or “surplus” motivated industry? It seems so in many institutions!

During my college orientation in the late ‘50s, we were told to look to our right and to our left and to take note – because only two of us would be there a year hence. Shocking! In other words, if you couldn’t master your chosen course-curriculum, you would be flunked out of the institution.

Frankly, I sense that is no longer the case in some schools. Many colleges and universities offer a variety of relatively easy and useless courses designed to keep underqualified and underperforming students in school and contributing financially to the institution’s income needs. In other words, like any other business in our free-enterprise economy, the education industry is motivated to meet the wants of parents and students for bona fide college degrees – even if it’s in relatively useless fields.

For example, I have a friend whose daughter graduated with a Master’s Degree in Library Science. Yet, she was unable to find a good paying job in that field. So, after an extensive search in her extended area, she finally took a job in the marketing department of a manufacturing firm. Much of her education was virtually wasted. Not good!

This is not to suggest that teachers are unmotivated to provide quality learning opportunities for students. However, flunking students out of their chosen curriculum is an administrative no-no. Teacher’s understand their job is to get students through their course-curriculum and on to the succeeding one the next semester.

Similarly, I do not want to suggest that all students are undermotivated and underperforming. Many get all that they possibly can from their program. And they learn how to keep five balls in the air – and how to organize their time and effort to get the maximum benefit from their chosen curriculum.

But some just slide through a system that is reluctant to terminate them. Unfortunately, they leave school only slightly better educated than when they arrived.

William Pauwels

William A. Pauwels, Sr. was born in Jackson Michigan to a Belgian, immigrant, entrepreneurial family. Bill is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and served in executive and/or leadership positions at Thomson Industries, Inc., Dow Corning, Loctite and Sherwin-Williams. He is currently CIO of Pauwels Private Investment Practice. He's been commenting on matters political/economic/philosophical since 1980.

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