Opinion | College Students: School Is Not Your Job

Logo The New York TimesThe New York Times
2023-09-04 09:02:08  • 6 mins

College freshmen who just arrived on campus have heard, from parents and politicians alike, that college exists mainly for the sake of work. Colleges themselves tout their graduates employment rates, starting salaries and career networks as a major selling point.

Students have gotten the message. An overwhelming majority of first-year students tell pollsters that getting a better job is a major reason for going to college. Across 25 years of teaching at five universities in three states, I have heard students consistently call school their job. Given the cost of attending a four-year college, its reasonable that they want assurance their degrees will lead to higher earnings.

But the expectation that college will help them land a job has led too many students to approach college like a job in its own right: a series of grim tasks that, once completed, qualifies them to perform grimmer but better-paid tasks until retirement. Thats a shame, because this mentality leaves no room for what college should primarily be about: not work, but leisure.

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