A new Gallup Poll of college presidents confirms what I have said for years:  Colleges generally do a poor job of preparing students for specific jobs. Worse, universities and colleges that stress job training usually hurt students by neither training them well nor educating them well. The dominant vocational-training model of higher education today may have high student (and parent) appeal, but it sells students short by failing to deliver on the skills and it buries them in a mountain of debt in the process.

As reported by Inside Higher Ed, nearly nine in 10 college presidents said in the survey that an emphasis on “critical thinking” skills and personal development is very important preparation for graduates to get jobs, but only about 40 percent think their own institutions are very effective at providing students with those skills, which are so necessary for success in any career.

801 presidents from a variety of American colleges and universities completed the survey in May and June 2014.

The survey shows that while most universities try to train their students with skills for the job market, a significant number of presidents acknowledge their institutions do a poor job of doing it. The irony is that most colleges and universities today boast to prospective students that they are essential training camps for future job seekers. Shockingly, a significant number of the presidents surveyed don’t actually believe their own institution’s recruiting hype.

According to IHE, 78 percent of presidents surveyed said that providing internships that apply what students learn to “the real world” is very important, yet only 38 percent reported that their institutions do that very well. Put another way, 72 percent of the institutions represented in the survey aren’t very good at giving students what they claim to be giving them.

The survey reveals that university presidents of voc-tech-oriented institutions are now admitting that the model they’ve been operating under is not working and that students aren’t getting what they’re paying for.

“This calls for a serious change,” said John Pryor, a senior researcher at Gallup who specializes in higher education.

The change, I’d suggest, is returning to the classical Christian model of liberal arts education that educates well the whole person for all of life, not just for narrowly defined, here-today-gone-tomorrow careers.

For more on this survey, see Presidents concerned about job training

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