As I was driving to my MetroRail stop a couple of afternoons ago, I heard a story on the radio mentioning the increased fire danger one our local SoCal forests was facing due to the severe lack of rainfall we have had the past year. As many of you are well aware, this region has experienced the driest season ever recorded in terms of rainfall. Ironically, this follows one of the wettest winters ever recorded just a couple of years prior. When you add these two extremes together, you have the makings for spectacular flames.
The same can be said for this blog - who knew that a mere misspelled word could also emulate dry, tender brush? (Well maybe not really).
If any of you took a moment to read a couple of the comments to my last post, you may have noticed my friend (also named Rich) pointed out my faux pas (proofreading has never been a strong suit) and a made a remark that kindled a spark in another loyal reader and friend of mine, Andrea. I am not going to referee the exchange and instead take a very middle- of-the-road stance and say they both had some interesting and valid things to say. However, I will leave myself wide open to criticism when I say that I take issue with one of the things that the other Rich had to say in regards to his own higher education experience.
While I will not specify which university conferred his degree, let's simply say flames and ash are part of it's lore.
While Rich was self-deprecating in regards to the level of education he received at the collegiate level, he was essentially doing nothing more than reflecting the general attitude we have towards the for- profit sector of higher ed. (And if you did not know these colleges were not commercial ventures, maybe now you understand why they advertise on TV so much).
Rich's self-deprecation also reflects our attitudes in general in terms of us all wanting something to be able to look down upon. Therefore if we analyze the higher education food chain, at the very top we have the Ivy League schools (plus your Dukes, Stanfords, and a select few "public ivys"), followed by top tier private and then public universities - on down the line until you see your school advertising during I LOVE LUCY reruns.
Despite the reputation these "lesser" institutions have impressed upon us, I am firmly of the belief that they actually do a good job of educating their students, albeit in a manner that is more unconventional. And as far as I am concerned, they have a legitimate place at the table along with the other schools since they fill a need that other more traditional schools cannot or will not adapt to.
There is only one problem I really have with the for-profit college or university: it is the fact that they are run for profit.
You would think I would be glad they are so up front about their status - and maybe I will get arguments from some of you that they are not so open about their business initiatives - I guess it is possible I am a bit more acutely aware, nevertheless, as I said earlier, they are heavy advertisers and big ad budgets do not simply appear out of nowhere. These schools are subsidiaries of companies that are publicly traded - that's right, you can own a piece of the school that I'd serious about success. And therein lies my beef: who are these schools more beholden to? Students? Faculty? In either case I highly doubt it. But if you are a shareholder you have automatically gained clout.
There is the possibility I could be totally off track, but I have a healthy dose of cynicism within me with respect to their profit motive that I don't have to the same degree with more traditional institutions. Trust me, I am not coming from the angle that their curriculum is substandard or that their presence cheapens the value of a college education in general. Quite the contrary, these schools actually do their part in making the American dream accessible to many more Americans due to their flexibility - a flexible stance more traditional institutions apparently choose not to take. But it does bother me that education becomes more about efficiency, earnings per share and which degree programs will be most profitable.
I do not want to sound like an elitist with his head buried inside an ivory tower. I am well aware that many very highly respected institutions have their own money making degree and certificate programs, but at least those programs do rub shoulders with other less "profit focused" programs and classes that a student might perhaps "accidentally" find himself or herself in.
So if it sounds like I am saying lie to me, you bet. Hide the truth. Keep the wool over my eyes. Before we get down to business, tell me you love me. That's all I want to hear.
Well, I gotta scoot.