Reading Questions-April 24th

  1. If the advocates of liberal education are saying that it is the “best” and that all students should obtain it, why are so many students opting to go to schools that don’t offer a liberal arts education like vocational schools? Is it for financial reasons? Does this mean that liberal education is only for the elite?
  2. Just like most institutions are doing mission creep and trying to become like Harvard, are most colleges trying to become liberal arts oriented?
  3. Is the economic recession a potential cause of 38% of parents claiming that the goal of college is to get a good job? Is it the immigrant mindset?
  4. Is the reason that most graduate and professional school require students to have a Bachelor’s before applying is that they value the benefits of a liberal arts education?
  5. If most employers mostly care about communication and problem solving skills which a liberal arts education is known to provide, shouldn’t colleges be doing more to make sure that parents understand the long term benefits of a liberal arts education?
  6. More and more research is showing that a college education is needed to succeed in the future. What are colleges and the government doing to make sure that college is affordable and students are getting the quality education?
  7. In the article that critiques liberal arts education, it is stated that students can learn some of the things that a liberal arts education teaches by themselves. The question is, are students motivated enough to do so, especially with so many distractions, like T.V. and the internet,  around them?
  8. How is technology contributing to the way students learn? Will listening to online lectures be the main way students learn rather than attending lectures in the future?
  9. If a liberal arts education is needed for students living in a democracy, is it not needed for non-democratic states?
  10.  Isn’t the increase in interest in making sure that an education leads to a job natural in a capitalist society like America?

Discussion Questions 4/24/13 – Lauren

1. What are some of the goals of  a liberal arts education? What are the means by which those goals are attained, and what outcomes would you say constitute achievement of those goals? Have the goals of a liberal arts education changed in recent years with regards to many factors that include the changing economy, job market, and rise in technology incorporation into learning etc.? If yes, how so? Do you think a liberal arts education will still be relevant in the future, or do you think it will fade in importance?

2. In Greater Expectations, The Association of American Colleges and Universities suggested that liberal education must change in two ways; one of them being that “it must define itself as the best and most practical form of learning for a changing world and strive to meet that standard.” Would you agree that a liberal arts education is the best/most practical form of learning? Why or why not?

3. How does a liberal arts education serve the individual? How does a liberal arts education serve society as a whole?

4. Many would say the training a liberal arts education can provide for advancing critical thinking skills as well as oral and written communication is essential to professional success. Furthermore, the students who approach their education purely in terms of occupational preparation may deprive themselves of the opportunity to find inspiration and excel in some other area of concentration. For most students, the decision about what they should major in goes beyond an analysis of employment statistics. Choosing a major in response to a changing job market is not always the most practical or rewarding way to approach one’s undergraduate education, but many feel obligated to major in a subject that they think will appeal to more graduate/professional schools, whether or not they are interested in it or not. What is a student to do when what they want to major in conflicts with what they think they should major in?

5. Do we measure the success of the graduate’s college experience by the first job attained by the student or by a lifetime of his/her professional achievement? Americans now change jobs numerous times over a lifetime and when the jobs of tomorrow may not even exist today, how significant is preparation for a student’s first job?

6.  Do you think the phrase “study hard and you’ll get into the college of your dreams” is still applicable? If not, how can we make this more applicable?

7. Is job preparation in fact the top goal of higher education? If so, do you think a vocational certificate is worth more than a liberal arts degree in terms of leading to better jobs for students?

8. According to Jobs, Value, and Affirmative Action: A Survey of Parents about College, many parents are likely to restrict the colleges that their children apply to because the high “sticker prices” of many of the colleges scare them away. However, the article mentions that parents should be open to applying to even the most expensive schools because many colleges offer generous financial aid, but this message is not getting through to parents. Why is it that case that so many parents think this way, and why are parents unaware of the fact that colleges can give financial aid? Should this idea be publicized more to get the word out, so parents can allow their children to apply to more schools (even the highly-rated expensive institutions)?

9. When parents were asked to identify the most important reason for they child to go to college, the top answer was “to get a good job.” Answers that were associated with going to college for educational reasons were lagging. What do you think is the most important reason? Should this change the way higher education is structured in the future; and should higher education incorporate a more streamlined, job-focused approach?

10. According to the article Survey Finds that Business Executives Aren’t Focused on the Majors of Those They Hire, it appears that business executives are more interested in their new employee’s thinking, communication, problem-solving skills than their choice of undergraduate majors. Furthermore, they want higher education to ensure that every college graduate, no matter the major, achieves higher levels of education-based reasoning, research skills, and complex problem-solving skills etc. So why is it the case that “many politicians have of late been suggesting that the only way to prepare for a career is to focus on career-related majors?” Why is there such a disconnect?

11. In Humphrey’s powerpoint, it states “Today’s students will have 10-14 jobs by the time they are 38.” Why is that the case? What is preventing these students from staying in a few stable jobs, and instead having such a large number of jobs?

12. If more and more people choose to attain certificates from vocational/training schools as oppose to liberal arts degrees, can we potentially be setting ourselves up for a stagnant economy in the future? Humphrey’s powerpoint suggests that the broad-range skills/capabilities developed from a liberal arts education have increasingly become the most valuable economic asset. If the economy is driven by innovation, and innovation is fostered through a liberal arts education, then what can we expect for the future of higher education and the economy (if people choose to attend more vocational schools than liberal arts institutions with the mindset that this will better prepare them for jobs)?

13. What is the best approach to solving the issue of liberal arts education vs. specific career specialization? From the Death of Liberal Arts article, it seems that obtaining a liberal arts education is still the best choice as it provides students with a broad range of necessary skills for the workplace, but students should also keep in mind that networking, good grades, and career goal-specific internships are an integral part of job preparation. Do you agree with this idea?

Reading Questions 4/24- Liberal Arts Education

1. Why did Europe shift from a liberal arts education, and why is it now returning to the liberal arts education system? Does this diversify European universities, or make them more basic?

2. How could a liberal arts education fail at promoting critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities that corporations deem necessary for successful employment?

3. Are corporations asking too much from students, and not compensating enough based upon the greater amount of skills being demanded? How has starting salary increased based upon the graduates who attain these skills?

4. Do you think a major is linked to ability to compete in the job market, or is major truly unrelated to what employers are looking for?

5. Are standardized tests able to project the critical thinking and reasoning abilities of students applying to college? If not, isn’t the admissions system flawed at producing students that will be able to develop these skills that are deemed necessary in today’s economy?

Reading Questions: Liberal Arts Education 4/24/2013

Does a liberal arts education almost “force” a student to go into grad school? How can a student acquire a job in the workforce without obtaining a more focused education?

Has the term liberal arts become so broad and loosely used that it can apply to many varieties of undergraduate education in America?

The Blaich article cites some benefits seen in students after completing a liberal arts education (such as improved standardized test scores). There is also more room for individualized attention in terms of student to teacher ratio. Seeing some of these benefits, would It be more beneficial colleges to adopt this liberal arts model?

The Jaschik article cites that many parents do not even consider sending their children to high sticker price colleges because they are unaware of the aid offered by some colleges. However, what are parents to do even after giving these colleges a chance and receiving very little aid in return? Won’t most of them have to go back to their more affordable alternatives?

Why do parents feel that a vocational school education will give their children a better chance at obtaining a liberal arts education? Can it be argued that a liberal arts education can provide both the benefits of educating and preparing a student for the workforce? Does the root of the problem lie in the fact that most of the public does not know what a liberal arts education is?

The employers in the articles emphasize that they want a worker to have knowledge of a broad range of topics as well as a focused area. This idea seems to point towards the liberal arts so should more national universities take up this liberal arts curriculum? How are students going to obtain these broader skills that the articles are emphasizing?

It seems that high school graduate rate has barely gone up or perhaps even decreased over the last couple of years. Yet there is still growing competition in the work force and many college students may even have to start obtaining some sort of post-secondary education. Why is there this increased competition when there isn’t a large percentage of students obtaining their bachelor’s degree?

Some of the articles argue that a liberal arts degree will not get a student anywhere in terms of a career. However who says that liberal arts only includes these “less competitive” majors? How are colleges going to implement some of these collaborative skills that employers are looking for?

Questions for President Guarasci

By Alannah Fehrenbach, Jonathon Farrell, Maryam Razaz and Shivani Sharma.


1. If you wish to improve or increase the involvement of technology in Wagner College, what would that entail and how much of your budget would you be willing to spend on it?


2. What are some of the largest expenses in running a college?


3. What area of higher education, do you believe, can use the most cuts?


4. How can rising student debt affect the landscape of current higher education?


5. Will students still choose to go to expensive private schools, or will public colleges become of greater demand?


6. What percentage of your budget is funded by endowments? What percentage is funded by student tuition?


7. What is the general structure of faculty at Wagner College? On average, what are the salaries of such professors and do you believe the salaries are justified?


8. The president of a University is burdened with two very separate yet important responsibilities, one is to manage the faculty and represent the university where the other is to ensure financial viability. Personally, what do you believe you spend most of your time doing?



1. Has technology been a tool for bringing people together in the college community?


2. How do you see the function of having classes where a professor is physically present changing (or not changing) with regard to the ever-growing presence of online courses and MOOCs replacing the old structure of education?


3. Do you see technology as a channel for research and development while aspiring to create economic and community development with the Port Richmond Partnership?


4. Wagner College is considered to give a “traditional education”; how does the use of technology as both a study-aid and a networking tool fit into this framework?


5. Is it important that professors be tech-saavy? Do you train professors in the newest developments of technology in the classroom?


6. Has multi-media presentation become a new forum of academic expression and educational exploration within the Wagner community? How?



1. How does civic engagement affect a student’s education?


2. How does your institution attempt to foster a diverse student body?


3. Explain a little bit about The Wagner Plan for the Practical Arts. How exactly does it work and how does it change the way your students learn?


4. There are two prevailing theories of why a student should go to college: to get credentials for a career and become a functioning member of society, or to become more of a well-rounded citizen. Do you feel that Higher Education should be more of a public good or used for personal growth?


5. After college graduates go into careers, employers constantly tell colleges that students lack many of the critical thinking skills necessary for being productive members of the work force. How do you propose colleges go about preparing students to be critical thinkers?


6. Earlier in America’s history, high school graduates had employment options that didn’t require a college degree, such as factory jobs and trade professions. Yet with the advent of technology and the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, a college degree is becoming increasingly more important to secure any form of employment, despite the fact that there are many students who are ill-prepared by the K-12 educational system for college. With jobs that place a large focus on education and a K-12 system that doesn’t adequately prepare some students, how do you propose we deal with those students who aren’t adequately prepared for college?


7. Wagner College’s mission “emphasizes scholarship, achievement, leadership, and citizenship,” but what makes the college’s mission truly different from that of any other private liberal arts college?



1. Being an educator at Wagner College for almost 20 years now, who do you believe deserves to attend this college? Do you feel that the college will implement new changes in the next 10 years as higher education seems to keep changing and evolving?

2. What are the main criteria for admission into Wagner College? What type of students are you looking for?

3. Being a private institution, does Wagner College give more scholarships based on need or on merit? In your own experience as an educator, which type of scholarship brings out the most in a student?

4. During your time here, you founded the Wagner Plan for Practical Liberal Arts. In a recent article in the Huffington post, however, you mentioned the need for solutions to fix a community’s set of problems, and better yet the country’s problems. Is your plan your direct solution for emphasizing a liberal arts education and helping the community? May you talk more about more about it?


5. According to the same Huffington post article, you are a huge proponent of the liberal arts system and affordability, but the cost of tuition for Wagner College is nearly $50,000 dollars. How does the university make its higher education more accessible to its students?

6. Being a college that was founded way before CUNY was, were there any changes that Wagner made during the 1960s when affirmative action made a groundbreaking step in New York City? If there were changes, do any of them still exist today?

7.   There is more and more of a desire among students to have a job-oriented education and to solely take the classes they think are needed to gain the specific set of skills they need for their future job. Thus, students have less of a focus on receiving a broad set of skills and rather study just for this class. Your plan here completely annihilates that. Students will graduate with both the broad skills and the specific set of skills needed in the work field today. May I ask how your plan came to be? Does this stem from your belief that universities should aim to provide their students with a well-rounded education? Has there been a successful rate of your graduates getting a job straight out of college?


8.   Where does academic freedom apply at a private institution? Is it only present in a classroom or does it include other campus activities?


Reading Questions 4/24

1. If students are primarily going to college to get a good job (and, consequently, good jobs are requiring college degrees), should the focus of Higher Education be more on vocational training rather than well-rounded education? Why or why not?

2. Do you think that a liberal arts education succeeds in creating a critical thinking, complex-reasoning individual who can contribute innovation to the workplace?

3. If means of personal education is highly accessible nowadays due to technology, should society place such a strong emphasis on going to college? Is there an inherent factor within the college system that makes it more worthwhile than seeking knowledge on one’s own?

4. How could a capitalist society go about transforming its ideals to place a larger focus on social equality rather than economic incentive?

5. How do students who aren’t adequately prepared to be critical thinking, complex reasoning individuals factor into the national (and global) economy?

Reading Questions 4/24

Jobs, Value and Affirmative Action: A Survey of Parents About College

The perception of college has more and more shifted to that it serves a single purpose: to get a student a well-paying job. Is that why you are in college?

Did your parents significantly affect which college you chose to go to?

Liberal Arts Education (Wikipedia Article)

Why do you believe that other countries have started to adopt this way of teaching, specifically in Europe? Do you believe the delay in starting this way of teaching was because they did not want to return to a Medieval way of learning?


Center of Inquiry

Do you believe that a liberal arts education should be available to everyone?


“What we don’t know about the effects of liberal arts education far outweighs what we know.”

Being a student who has a liberal arts education, do you believe that this statement is true? Do you believe that a liberal arts education would have a profound effect on its students?

Survey finds that business executives aren’t focused on the majors of those they hire and Percentage of Employers Who Want Colleges to “Place More Emphasis” on Essential Learning Outcomes

Companies are looking for a specific range skills. The percentages also show the distribution and intensity of this range. Do you believe that this is the main reason why liberal arts education could come back into demand? Provide other reasons why this way of learning could come back.


Not For Profit

Parents are apparently ashamed of their children having literature and art majors. Humanities and art classes are continually being cut out from institutions. A liberal arts education, also, is more and more being associated with the wealthy elites. If we make the liberal arts more affordable to all, will its demand rise? Will more students opt for a liberal arts education?


Again, being a student who has a liberal arts education, do you believe that a liberal arts education has profound effects on its students?


Liberating the Liberal Arts

Colleges are being perceived more and more these days as being not worth it, among other things. Solutions such as not raising taxes have been proposed as to stimulate a greater response to college. Propose more solutions.


Guido Sarducci and the Purpose of Higher Education

According to one of the article’s readers, “Grades in courses don’t help with personal assessment of learning outcomes.” Is this true? What do you propose to assure that a student has learned all the specific skills he/she needed to learn from the course? The broad, interpersonal skills?


The Death of Liberal Arts

“It’s hard to predict the landscape of the labor market for the next 10, 20, 30 years.” If this is true, wouldn’t a liberal arts education, which creates well-rounded people, be the education to take? Why are career-oriented majors and colleges being followed if they do not produce the desired candidates?


What You (Really) Need to Know

This article hints that it is not really what you teach but how you teach it, especially in higher education, which will truly influence the student. Have your professors ever used impractical methods for you to learn the material?


Liberal arts colleges rethink their messaging in the face of criticism

“Students in pre-professional majors aren’t challenged in the same way as students in liberal arts disciplines.” Using your own experience and the evidence embedded in this article, defend or argue against this statement.


The Third Way

Macaulay offers us both a liberal arts education and the opportunity to intern basically anywhere. With the implementation of “3/2” programs, and ones similar to it, that integrate a liberal arts education and internships, how would higher education change? Do you believe this to be a positive or negative change? Draw from both these articles and your own experience.


The Economic Value of Liberal Education

Both “broad set of cross-cutting capacities” and “specific job skills” are desired in potential job candidates. So, why aren’t the liberal arts more revered or taken up by students? Use this article and all of the previous ones to answer this question.

Questions 4/24/13

1. Liberal arts colleges are supposed to be more focused on teaching rather than research, according to the wikipedia article. Do you feel that colleges that call themselves liberal arts colleges, like Brooklyn College, fall under than definition?

2. Why do European colleges not generally have liberal arts programs, considering the liberal arts in the western context were founded there.

3.Why would students want to go to a non-liberal arts university if those universities are more teaching-focused?

4. Is there any way to test if a liberal arts college makes a student more “humane” or “globally a citizen”? If so, what are some ways?

5. Do you believe college is more necessary to get a good job or to get a good critical education?

6. Do you believe that counselors of certain professions erroneously suggest that undergraduate students go into a certain major?

7.What changes, if any, have colleges employed in their curricula to match the growing desire of interpersonal skills that employers desire in today’s job market?

8. What are some ways to improve high school graduation rates and what are some policies that NYC BoE have used in the past?

9. WHy do you think those with the least physical ability (the 1st quintile) earn the most amount of money?

10. DO you personally feel that attending college for the past two years has increased your ability to think critically, write, or demonstrate complex reasoning? Why?

Reading Questions- 4/24 Jonathan Edelstein

Do you think college should cost a different amount for students pursuing a liberal arts degree. Is  a  liberal arts education worth less because the starting salary is generally lower?

Is class size more important in a liberal arts classroom than in a more technical class? Can online learning be used in the liberal arts?

Do you think a liberal arts education should place more emphasis on quantitative reasoning AND verbal reasoning, rather than most majors focusing on one or the other?

Eventually, one has to learn a trade. When do you think is the right time to end a focus on the liberal arts and focus specifically on a certain career? Are the liberal arts that one is exposed to in high school enough to be considered well rounded?

Should colleges “force” students to take a certain number of liberal arts classes? Can such mandatory classes actually make student better citizens, or do they infringe on the right of the student to study whatever he or she desires?

Why are the liberal arts so commonly degraded in terms of job prospects? Wouldn’t a liberal arts degree strongly position graduates for any writing based, analytical career? There seems to be a myriad of different career opportunities a liberal arts education prepares one for.  Can this idea that a liberal arts degree is inferior to a technical degree when it comes to jobs be viewed as a kind of self-fulfilling myth?

4/24: Liberal Arts Education Reading Questions

Considering the changing job market and demands, does the value of a liberal arts degree change? Are there certain characteristics of a liberal arts degree that have become obsolete? Or some that have become more desired?

Many parents that financial support their children through college discourage a liberal arts degree. These parents stress the need that students graduate and are placed in a steady job. Supporters of the liberal arts, such as Humpherys, believe that the liberal arts provide the necessary career readiness skills. What defines career readiness? Is it only related to a student’s major and proficiency in specific classes? Or does it involve other skills learned from the experiences inside and outside the classroom?

Andrew Coulson wrote that the liberal arts “perpetuate a 15th century approach to higher education.” Do you think the liberal arts are becoming outdated and irrelevant to higher education? Can the basis of the liberal arts be preserved while modifying some of the practices used?

A new approach to higher education, the “practice-oriented” study, was suggested. This practice involves a hybrid of liberal arts studies and pre-professional training. This can be achieved with 3/2 programs and co-op programs. Does this seem like a fair balance for higher education?

Many people involved in higher education believed that liberal arts schools are producing strong graduates, who land success job and have fruitful careers. Despite having statistics in their favor, many liberal arts schools are not drawing the number of students they need or want. Do you think the emotional language of the literature that emphasizes the “demise of the liberal arts college” affects too many people? How can liberal arts colleges stress their supportive data and appeal to the emotions of students facing the college process? Should liberal arts schools avoid all pre-professional program or is this change necessary to continue their growth?