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June 03, 2010 3:25 PM School, and Work

By Daniel Luzer

With the economy seemingly in long-lasting freefall, and college graduates scrambling for employment, any employment, some American colleges are now looking to make their degrees align closer to actual work. According to an article by Lee Lawrence in the Christian Science Monitor:

Their diplomas and transcripts, they will discover, often don’t tell employers and deans what they need to know. As a result, professors often find students unprepared, while companies subject applicants to tests or hire only graduates of institutions they know well.
A pilot Tuning project funded by the Lumina Foundation led Prof. Frances Titchener of the State University of Utah (USU) to completely revamp her Greek history course last year to emphasize marketable skills and base only 25 percent of the course grade on historical knowledge.

This not a bad idea. American colleges don’t do a terribly good job preparing students for employment.

The trouble is it’s not really clear that employers want to hire people with transparent transcripts or vocational skills directly tied to jobs. Mostly, they appear just to want people who are smarter and better educated. It’s critical thinking employers seem to actually desire. Ample knowledge of history is part of how people become critical thinkers.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer