College graduates are certainly learning something – all that resume padding isn’t worth a bucket of spit when all the imaginary jobs that kept people busy moving around notional financial instruments disappear.
But that hasn’t stopped at least one enterprising student from applying her hard-won educational attainments toward a productive end – she is suing her college for failing to land her a job.
This might be the impetus for new university programs that can take advantage of this widespread discontent – e.g., MAML (Masters in Alma Mater Litigation), or BEE (Bachelors in Entitlement Entrepreneurship), or JDBS (you can figure that one out). Or maybe schools with declining enrollments will take a chance and offer money back guarantees if you don’t get a job within six months of graduation (watch out for the fine print, however…).
This latest act of litigious absurdity does speak to the very real belief among college graduates that the main and perhaps only reason to attend university is to land a good entry level job in paper moving. Colleges do very little to dispel this belief, and actively market themselves as providing grease for the wheels that will glide down easy street – albeit without using so many words. Institutions that were once established through the considerable sacrifices of communities seeking to foster character and virtue among their young adults have become credentialing machines that implicity promise a quick payday, most often somewhere else. While this particular student’s actions are at once risible and pitiable, they are not wholly incomprehensible or unexpected in light of the implicit social contract that now exists between schools and their students. As fewer of our current graduates land those plum positions, more and more young people (and their parents) will be asking themselves why they should pony up 100k+ for the likelihood of a minimum wage job after graduation (if that). To which our colleges and universities will not be able to provide a good answer, as it seems long ago they got out of the business of educating young people for lives as responsible members of communities, and instead got into the business of supporting private ambitions for gain and lucre. Unable to guarantee their contribution to that end, the ability of today’s universities to explain the reason for their existence recedes from sight…