In Defense of Consumerism

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

We as Americans celebrate the idea of a well educated populace. It is the general thought that a person who has been through the rigors of a formal education has a better understanding of the world around them. These alumni are more able to adapt to new situations and resolve them. They are better suited for the workplace, and are therefore more valuable to society. The authors in the two essays, In Defense of Elitism and On the Uses of a Liberal Education, have both come to the conclusion that the modern university is not what it was when this general opinion took root. The authors have different views in regards to the solution to this problem, but both are quick to identify it as a growing trend modeling consumerism; the student is a customer and the college a willing supplier of a marketable product.

As the student becomes the consumer in the university environment, the entire dynamic of higher education changes.

Once a place for the well-to-do and intelligent, colleges are fast becoming a place where customer satisfaction is the rule of the day and quality of work comes second to the quality of life. Universities are now asking themselves, as in Mark Edmundson's essay On the Uses of a Liberal Education, 'How does one prosper with the current clientele?' This new play of professors and administrators being guided by student demands and interests is noticed also by William A. Henry III. He believes that there is an injustice in knowingly training students for jobs and careers that may never be available to them. As student interest increases, colleges offer more degree programs to meet demand, even if there is an oversupply in the marketplace. As he states in his essay, In Defense of Elitism, '…colleges blithely...