A Degree Versus an Education
Recently I went back and guest lectured at Virginia Tech in the veterinary school and in some marketing and agribusiness classes. I gained some interesting perspectives.
The veterinary students were very eager to learn about business and economics. These bright students for the most part were very naïve to business and economics, having curriculums jam-packed with science. No, I am not critical just of Virginia Tech, because these circumstances play out around the country in our medical and veterinary schools. These people must pass their required courses to obtain their degree; however, many lack the education and experience of running a business, marketing their services and managing human resources.
Second, I went on campus to lecture in the Junior/Senior level agricultural marketing course. After a slow start giving a student who was preoccupied working crossword puzzles a quick reminder, telling him that was not going to cut it when I was volunteering my time in retirement to do the lecture, boy, did we have an exciting question-filled class! Folks, I am walking by too many classrooms seeing students who are not engaged or even showing up to class.
To top this, students are telling me that their professors are also not coming to class and in some cases have to be called out of bed. The point is that with rising tuitions, too many students are at a University for just a degree. Personally, I do not think a degree is worth it. However, an engaged energy-filled class in which information and experiences are shared for an education is always worth the price of admission.
Universities and colleges, let’s get our priorities straight! Being one of the top research universities and getting in Newsweek magazine is great and should be pursued, but let’s not make education at the undergraduate level a commodity, like many are doing. Within a few years, you may have many empty new buildings and hollow halls if you don’t start taking care of the business of educating our society.
Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.
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