Tuesday, February 3

“You do know where you sent your kid to college, right?”

Irate Parent (IP) on the phone: Prof. DJ?
Me: Yes.

IP: My Mary informs me that she wants to major in Blank. How, as her advisor, can you let her do this?
Me: Because Blank fits her interests and strengths. (the unstated second part of this: What do you suggest, I slip a ruffie into her drink and fill out her forms for her?)

IP: But how many job adds do you see in the paper that ask for a Blank major?
Me: Well, zero I guess. But you do know that the important thing is that your daughter can think qualitatively and quantitatively, express her ideas well orally and in writing, and that she knows how to solve problems, acquire new skills, THINK and LEARN, setting her up for a lifetime of success? You'll note that many of our students go on to graduate or professional school, and the others, as a rule, get well paying jobs that were never advertised in the paper. And if they change jobs at some point in the future (as most Americans do at some point), they have a generalized skill set that transfers well to other arenas.

IP: That's just a bunch of crap.
Me: I am sorry you feel that way. Out of curiosity, you'd have her major in...?

IP: I don't know. Accounting?
Me: We don't have an accounting program.

IP: WHAT? I pay $3X,XXX (yes, gentle reader, they really pay this per year for tuition, room and board) and you don't have an accounting program?

The school I work at is a liberal arts college. We have a clearly stated educational philosophy that is impossible to miss if you are paying any kind of attention to our printed materials or to the presentations made to perspective students and their families. Our curriculum is made public for all to see. If you can read, you can find out what courses we teach, what majors we offer, and what we think a college education is all about. I believe we do a good job and I am a firm believer in the liberal arts tradition. I do understand that there are individuals who want a college experience that is more akin to a professional degree program (e.g., accounting, applied engineering, computer programming, etc.). If this is what you want (or want for your child), why in the name of all that is pure would you go to (or send your kid to) an expensive school with stated goals that conflict with yours?

I admit I am very slow as I really do not understand how people who can amass enough wealth to spent well over $120,000 U.S. dollars on an education do not take the time to evaulate what they are going to get before they sign on for the long haul.