Phi Beta Cons

How to Find Your Vocation in College

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory took a lot of heat for suggesting that education isn’t about “butts in seats but how many of those butts can get jobs.” Some conservatives rushed to defend his comments — which were, in fact, merely the logical extension of the “college grads make more money” justification given by liberals to further subsidize college loans — but Gene Edward Veith, professor of literature and provost at Patrick Henry College, asks us to step back a moment and look at students’ choices through the lense of vocation:

[Vocation] has become a synonym for “job,” so that colleges debate the extent to which higher education should be primarily vocational training or whether it should have higher goals, such as cultivating the intellect. But vocation is simply the Latinate word for “calling.” It is one of those theological words—like inspiration, revelation, mission, and vision—that has been taken over by the corporate world and drained of its meaning. The idea is that what you do for a living can be a calling.

Some conservatives like Nathan welcome the rise of MOOCs as a solution to the problems that plague higher education. Veith offers a (heavily) qualified defense of how higher ed is currently structured:

Part of the genius of higher education is that its structure usually allows you to try things. Most people come to college with little sense of what fields even exist and have only a slim idea what they are good at. Here the much-maligned liberal arts requirements can be enormously helpful. . . . Studying history and your cultural heritage can help you in your vocation of citizenship. Learning to read, write, and think deeply can make you better at whatever profession you are eventually called to. And taking courses with so many different methodologies — hard science and social science, literary analysis and quantitative research — can give you a sense of what intellectual activities you find most rewarding, which can help direct you toward a major, perhaps one you never even knew existed.

Read the rest at the Intercollegiate Review.

Most Popular

Elections

Democrats Are Dumping Moderates

The activist base of the Democratic party is lurching left fast enough that everyone should pay attention. Activists matter because their turnout in low-turnout primaries and caucuses almost propelled leftist Bernie Sanders to victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Last month, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated New ... Read More
Culture

Questions for Al Franken

1)Al, as you were posting on social media a list of proposed questions for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, did it occur to you that your opinion on the matter is no more relevant than Harvey Weinstein’s? 2) Al, is it appropriate for a disgraced former U.S. senator to use the Twitter cognomen “U.S. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Strzok by a Farce

An investigation is one of two things: a search for the truth, or a farce. The House is conducting a farce. That fact was on full display during ten hours of testimony by Peter Strzok, the logorrheic lawman who steered the FBI’s Clinton-emails and Trump–Russia probes. The principal question before the ... Read More
Film & TV

Stalin at the Movies

Toward the end of The Death of Stalin, two Communist Party bosses size up Joseph Stalin’s immediate successor, Georgy Malenkov. “Can we trust him?” one asks. “Can you ever really trust a weak man?” his comrade answers. Good question. Last week brought the news that the head of Shambhala ... Read More