The arguments they make for cramming a supposed 4 year college degree into 3 years emanate from greater efficiencies from the fuller utilization of facilities, of faculty time and of student time. The 2 professors even see benefits from graduates entering the work force a year sooner.
What are they thinking?
Academia’s Ivory Tower is well-known for intellectually disconnecting itself from the real world. I’m glad to see nothing’s changed since I was an undergraduate. The argument the 2 academics make is the latest case in point. Oliver Wendell Holmes is supposed to have said, “Nothing is so rewarding as a stubborn examination of the obvious.” See Bill Husted, The Denver Post.
But what’s obvious to some, merely intrigues others, particularly those who’re disconnected from what’s really going on in the world.
First, like typical bureaucrats, any problem can be solved by adding more bodies to the fray, i.e., “adding a few more faculty members and staff.” And then, of course, college faculty would have to work harder. But this begs the question, “Do faculty have any interest or desire in working harder?”
However, their time is largely unregulated. That’s the way they like it, especially if they’re tenured and secure. In those instances they’re particularly left to their own devices.
Most professors claim they already work long hours, well beyond the standard 40 hour work week. But in those rare instances when attempts are made to add a bit of substance to such claims, such as actually requiring a 40-Hour Rule, i.e., a punch-clock to punch in and out of the Ivory Tower, the weeping, wailing and teeth-gnashing are enough to elicit crocodile tears from the average working stiffs.
It’s hardly new criticism of erudite Ivory Tower dwellers. Indeed, in a New York Times blog last year, ‘Why is College So Expensive?’ Dick Morris gave voice to my own long-held beliefs dating back to my college days when the political pundit said colleges “coddle their faculty letting them off with work weeks that we would find laughable.” Besides reducing their out-of-control spending, Morris contends college costs could be cut in half “if colleges required their faculty to work harder (approximating the work week the rest of us find normal).”
And then there’s the other point the Professors Trachtenberg and Kauvar make about the ‘advantage’ of early admission to the workforce. It all sounds good but there’s that small detail that’s delusionally glossed over about graduates entering the workplace “that much faster.” The detail is called unemployment. Memo to professors: There’s a recession going on. And even if we believe the plane is going to pull up before it hits the mountain, the recovery so far appears to be a jobless-one.Young adults are presently facing the worst unemployment since 1948. See “The Kids Aren’t Alright: A Labor Market Analysis of Young Workers.”
In fact the job market is so bad, that graduates who aren’t already ill-using their high-priced degrees in non-degree related servile service work, are opting to hide out in that most traditional of hiding places —– law school. In for a nickel, why not go all in for the rest?
Insanely, some college graduates think they defer reality by dog-piling on additional six figure tuition debt, this time courtesy of law school! Thus, they assure a lifetime’s worth of indentured servitude to pay off undergraduate and graduate school loans. See Getting Into Graduate School Made Tougher by the Recession.
6 years to graduate.
It used to be it took 4 years to graduate from college. But that’s become a thing of the past. Indeed, a recent USATODAY story reveals that 4-year colleges graduate 53% of students in 6 years.
Again, the 2 counterintuitive professors’ suspend reality. But when it comes to skipping their reality-check, they’re no different from those over-indulgent Baby Boomer parents who with a straight-face tell you, “Yeah, my kid’s a 7 year senior but it’s because he couldn’t get all his classes.”
So notwithstanding that cost, student motivation, academic inertia, and higher education’s structural lassitude all contribute to longer and longer stays in college without graduation, the 2 professors blithely prescribe otherwise.
Yeah, I’m just kidding on that last bit about college tuition. I’d have to live in an Ivory Tower to believe that one.