Copyright © 1997, Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 07:22:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Random Thought: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Good morning. A real early good morning. It's 3:15 and I can't sleep. Even the glass of warm milk didn't work. Having a massive house rennovation those horrors tales rival that of "Mister Blanding Builds His Dream House" and "The Money Pit" combined will do that. I put my book down after a while and started flipping through the 402 infomercials on TV. I discovered to my amazement how I could so easily earn a million dollars a month in real estate without investing any money, how I could become an astropysicist using two video tapes, how I could clean my white carpets wearing an Amani suit with a space age vacuum that gets out every conceiveable stain, how I can become the world's greatest chef by just purchasing a set of knives or a shredder, how I can preserve for the next millenium that food I prepared with the knives and shredder, how I can get perfectly clean teeth to match my carpets, how I can paint my house in pressed workclothes without a drip or getting a speck of paint on me or anything else, and how I can get a body that would rival Arnold Schwatzenegger with only 15 second daily workouts.

As I giggled and smirked and laughed, I started thinking how we who promote our campuses are noe appreciable different from the modern electronic pushcart salespeople. My smirks slowly faded. We offer the same type of guarantees, sell the same kind of miraculous product, and we're just as smooth about it. Slowly images of college recruiters started dancing in my head like the upcoming season's sugar plum fairies. I saw them scurrying around high school halls, setting up booths in high school gyms during "College night," giving families VIP tours of our campus fountains and buildings and sports fields, rousting out prospective first year students. I saw them handing out Madison Avenue brochures with pictures of Morris Agency models strolling across immaculate campuses, sitting on the edge of their cushioned easy chairs listening attentively to a smiling, made-up professor orating, leisurely dining in a four-star campus cafeteria, joyfully assisted by librarians with not one hair out of place in the campus Library of Congress, dressed in designer labcoats intently studying a test tube or peering at a computer screen. Each booth has a eye-catching neon sign worthy of Broadway flashing in vivid colors that would be the envy of any Las Vegas casino: DEGREE....JOB....SALARY....SUCCESS; DEGREE....JOB....SALARY....STATUS. Each booth had a computer that was showing on a website all sorts of images of their collegiate spa.

I heard these recruiters screaming out from booths in high schools' college night like two-bit barkers at a carnival, I saw them quietly and seductively enticing parents touring our campus: "Do you want to advance in life? Do want to gain respect? Well, my friend, for the small price of a ticket you can see the secret. Get a peek inside and you'lll see the wonder of getting a better job."

Like a salesman on a TV infomercial, they dragged out the testimonials: "I was a slave to someone all my life? But, I am here as an alum to tell you that you don't have to scrimp and save every minute of the day. I used to worry about bills all the time and live on a tight budget from month to month. But, after getting my degree from Touting University, I'm here to tell you that you can be somebody. The people at Touting gave me the solution for all my financial problems, the cure for all my economic headaches. They gave me a college degree." And then, the salesperson turns to the camera, forcefuly saying, "Put the broom down. Walk way from the production line. Get out of the ditch. Stop standing on your feet all day. Be your own boss. It's a way to make all your hard work easy. Today only, on special, I have in my hand this piece of sheepkin that I guarantee will get you A BETTER JOB; you'll MAKE MORE MONEY"; you'll BE SUCCESSFUL; you'll have "EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED; you'll START AT A HIGHER SALARY, have higher STATUS in your community. I GUARANTEE that no one will look down on you; everyone will respect you; you'll become a PROFESSIONAL."

Stretching it a bit? Maybe. But think about it. We bark like those hawkers at a carnival booth or promoters on the informercials, we hire recruiting consultant, we tout that our only job is to insure the students gets a job. Our brochures, web pages, magazine and newspaper advertisements link education and success and achievement to a job and salary scale. We've got the answer to the question; we've unlocked the secret; we've got the magic elixir; we've solve the problem; we've answered the question. COME TO COLLEGE AND EARN A DEGREE and GET A JOB, and all your worries will be allayed.

And some on our college and university campus will rise up in outrage, arguing that votech schools offer jobs, colleges and universities offer professions. We claim to be the botique in the educational mall. Listen to the salesperson's snooty pitch:
"We're not K-Mart votechnical institute. Go there if you want to be just a mechanic. We offer only a degree in mechanical engineering."
"Go to Walmart Community College if you want to be a mere x-ray technician," he snobishly sneers. "Here, we offer only the highest quality. In your graduating class, you will be high class, a radiologist."
"We don't have stores in strip malls," We cater only to high educational society. "Target Technical College will teach you to be a merely dental assistant. We only train future dentists." "We teach people how to clean the air, not merely install air conditioners like Family Dollar Junior College."

Oh, we dress up our displays; we decorate our windows; we merchandise our product with smooth advertising; and we package everything in fancy gift wrap. We call ourselves "Universities!" We call our product a profession or productive careet--never a job. But, the truth is, as the bard might say, a job by another name is still a job. Well, somehow it seems that he only difference between us colleges and universities and those supposedly lowly votech schools and common community colleges is that we claim we can offer a better product, offer the prospects of a better job, higher salary, more prestige, more success, more achivement, a better place in the workplace. Yet, when you come down it we're touting ourselves as glorified vocational/technical schools, white-collar and professionalism not withstanding; we do more training and schooling than we do educating; we are more concerned with incomes than the outcomes.

So, why should be be outraged when students come to us with a greater interest in interest than in interesting knowledge. Why should we shake our heads in disappointment when students are only concerned with earning rather than with the sheer joy of learning? Why should we moan and groan when an athlete is attracted by the big cents and does not sense the need to get a degree? Why should we mournfully tear our clothes when a business major becomes a drop out swayed more by the dollar sign than the president's signing of the diploma? Why should we throw up our hands in righteous indignation when a theater or music major leaves school for a role or a gig feeling it is more significant to walk down a theater aisle or play on a stage than walk down a graduating aisle and across the stage? We should be disappointed or confused or angry. To the contrary, we should feel good and celebrate. After all, we kept our promise to them. We told them that our business is business, and they got a job.

Oh, well back to seeing how I can perfectly restore my 1963 Mustang with a can of polish.

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
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