Born in 1950, I grew up in an era when going to college was a privilege, not a birthright funded by the federal government. During this era, a college degree was viewed as a launching pad to a successful career. People went to college to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, accountants, financiers, business leaders, and scientists. They pursued college degrees to gain an advantage over the competition in their respective professions. This is still the case for some students, but for a growing number of high school graduates, college has become nothing more than a way to avoid responsibility for four more years while having fun at the expense of the American taxpayer.
According to Glenn Harland Reynolds of the University of Tennessee Law School and author of “The Higher Education Bubble,” a college education has evolved into little more than a “status marker.” It is a box young people must now check in order to be a member of the “club.” And you can forget the part about a college degree being the launching pad to a successful career. Many of the degrees conferred by universities today have little or no value in the marketplace. In fact, for many students market value is no longer the primary consideration when selecting a college major. It should come as no surprise that members of today’s Me Generation would select college majors that columnist George Will refers to as degrees in “narcissism.”
For many students, the key factor in choosing a college major is no longer career preparation, it is self-awareness. More specifically, it is about understanding how you—the student—are a victim of a society dominated by dastardly white males bent on the subjugation of women and minorities. The new approach to a college education is to spend four years studying yourself and how your diversity makes you special.
Diversity is the new growth engine in academia. Left-leaning universities are adding more and more diversity related services, courses, degrees, and graduation requirements while eliminating legitimate marketable degrees, degrees that will help recipients contribute to the betterment of society. For example, the University of California at San Diego added a diversity requirement to help students better understand their own identities while eliminating master’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering. What universities are not telling students is that if they spend four years in college doing nothing more than trying to find themselves they eventually will. They will find themselves unemployed and deeply in debt. Further, any student who has to spend four years in college and more than $100,000 in tuition, fees, and expenses to learn that he or she is oppressed is not very oppressed.
Not only is the growth in left-leaning universities found in such programs as African-American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Hispanic Studies, the growth in support staff and administrators is also in these and other diversity-related disciplines and services. Heather McDonald of the Manhattan Institute provides the following examples of universities committing limited resources to diversity-related enterprises rather than investing in real academic programming that provides the type of knowledge and skills needed in today’s global world:
• UC San Diego created the position of Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion—a position that costs the university well over six figures—while losing three cancer research positions. Apparently at UC San Diego, ensuring that students find themselves is more important than curing cancer.
• UC Davis has a Diversity Trainers institute that is administered by, what else, an Administrator of Diversity Education. The University also provides a Cross-Cultural Center; a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center; a Sexual Harassment Education Program; a Diversity Program Coordinator; an Early Resolution Discrimination Coordinator; and a Diversity Education Series that offers certificates in “Unpacking Oppression,” and “Understanding Diversity and Social Justice.”
Apparently, left-leaning universities believe that emphasizing narcissistic self-awareness is more important than turning out well-prepared, responsible graduates who can make a positive difference in the world. What is worse is that students are borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars in government loans to pursue their four years of self-discovery. One such student was profiled in 2010 in The New York Times. Courtney Munna borrowed almost $100,000 to complete a degree in women’s studies at New York University. Munna told The New York Times that she now labored every day “to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back.” Enough said.