Jehovah’s Witnesses, Higher Education and Misrepresentation

 

by Barbara J. Anderson

 

It is my assertion that the publishers of the October 1, 2005 Watchtower, a Jehovah’s Witness journal, blatantly misrepresented statements from at least five well-known secular sources in an attempt to discourage their readers from pursuing higher education.

 

While a religious journal may choose not to use secular sources for instructional purposes, if the journal’s editor allows its writers to do so, readers naturally assume that much care has been taken so that a quotation is not taken out of context in order to unfairly sway them to a certain conclusion not intended by the author. 

 

Usually authors develop their thesis in two ways: 1) by using various statements of facts; 2) by quoting statements of other writers. These statements could be likened to bricks that the author uses to build a logical structure resulting in a conclusion. It has been observed that many Watchtower writers take one or more of these “bricks” and then use them to build an alternate structure with a different conclusion than intended by the original source. Furthermore, to provide authority for these “bricks,” the references are cited not in just any of the massive amounts of literature produced by this religion, but in the Watchtower, the Witnesses’ number one policy journal, which would give the reader even more confidence in the validity of the statement.

 

Before proving my claim of secular misrepresentation, which amounts to an abuse of context on behalf of the Watchtower, some background is useful regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses view of education.

 

Prior to November 1992, the message in Witness literature from their leadership was unmistakable and absolute—university education was something Jehovah’s Witnesses should not pursue. Why not? Because higher education is the way to obtain a prestigious “worldly” career and the key to a prosperous, materialistic life-style in a world that God will soon destroy.

 

For example, in 1969, the Watchtower stated the following with respect to how Witness high school graduates should view the pursuit of higher education:

 

   “The influence and spirit of this world is to get ahead, to make a name for oneself. Many schools now have student counselors who encourage one to pursue higher education after high school, to pursue a career with a future in this system of things. Do not be influenced by them. Do not let them “brainwash” you with the Devil’s propaganda to get ahead, to make something of yourself in this world. This world has very little time left! Any ‘future’ this world offers is no future!” [1]

 

Further, notice what another Witness periodical, Awake!, claimed:

 

   "If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years. ...as a young person you will never fulfill any career that this system offers. If you are in high school and thinking about a college education, it means at least four, perhaps even six or eight more years to graduate into a specialized career. But where will this system of things be by that time? It will be well on the way toward its finish, if not actually gone! This is why parents who base their lives on God’s prophetic Word find it much more practical to direct their young ones into trades that do not require such long periods of additional schooling." [2]

 

New Option

 

As a whole, the Witnesses accepted this mindset until 1992 when an article appeared in the November 1st Watchtower, “Education With A Purpose,” that was construed by more progressive Witnesses as a considerable change of viewpoint toward higher education. However, rather than being a revolutionizing initiative taken by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, in reality, certain economic developments forced a modification of their previously held opinion. As before, readers were admonished to continue to be “interested in education, not for its own sake, but in order to become more effective servants of Jehovah.” And the message set out for young Witnesses remained the same—find jobs that pay decent wages and ‘pioneer’ [engage in the full-time missionary service].

 

Outlined in the article, the perceived advantages resulting from having a basic knowledge of history, geography, science, language, etc., usually obtained from finishing secondary or high school would still

 

 

With that said, the modifying of the previous position began. The Watchtower pointed out that what was considered as an adequate amount and level of schooling required to earn a decent wage a few years ago, had changed in many places of the world and it had become difficult to find jobs with only the minimum amount of schooling (completion of high school) encouraged previously by the Witnesses.  Accordingly, “supplemental education or training might be considered,” states the Watchtower, adding in another paragraph that the “purpose of extra schooling … must not be lost sight of or change into a materialistic goal.”[3]  

 

Although the same old warnings of the dangers of higher learning were repeated, such as—secular universities oppose the teachings of the Bible and are hotbeds of lawlessness and immorality—for the first time the publishers of the Watchtower admitted “that nowadays youngsters meet up with these same dangers in high schools and technical colleges and even in the workplace.” Since Witness children can not be totally removed from such influences, parents were admonished to have their offspring live at home when taking additional courses, and also added other reminders with the hope that young Witnesses would continue to keep the interests of their religion first in mind.[4]  

 

To the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their children, the article was realistic and liberating, and especially welcome were the following words:

 

   …when parents and young Christians today, after carefully and prayerfully weighing the pros and cons, decide for or against postsecondary studies, others in the congregation should not criticize them. If Christian parents responsibly decide to provide their children with further education after high school, that is their prerogative… If additional courses are taken, certainly the motive should not be to shine scholastically or to carve out a prestigious worldly career….[5]

 

One member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lloyd Barry, now deceased, attended university in his youth in New Zealand. In the early 1990s, he expressed himself privately to some members of the Writing Department at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization in Brooklyn, New York, about a needed change of attitude towards supplementary education, but not because he had attended university. Lloyd Barry was empathetic towards the low-paying job plight of Witnesses as expressed in personal letters received at headquarters, and from Jehovah’s Witnesses branch office communiqués from around the world. He said that in certain European countries jobs were not available to Witnesses, even in fast food restaurants, if they could not produce a resume which showed supplemental education after high school. Due to difficult economic changes in a world that Witnesses could not escape from, Lloyd Barry, along with the rest of the Governing Body, authorized the November 1, 1992 Watchtower article that changed the view of Witnesses towards higher education.

 

Interestingly, another Governing Body member, Dan Sydlik, shared with a friend that the Watchtower Society was finding itself in a difficult position because this mammoth publishing company needed skilled technical people but couldn't find them in the Witness community. So it was decided to allow a somewhat more liberal attitude towards a college education, knowing that some percentage of students with the necessary technical skills would eventually volunteer to become part of the staff at headquarters.

 

The Old Becomes New Again

 

In today’s world, as prices climb, it is a challenge for everyone, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, to provide adequate necessities, much less luxuries, for themselves and their families, so the value of higher education has become more of a necessity than ever before. Yet, in 2005, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses decided that parents should not be overly concerned about the ability of their children to support themselves in the future. In the October 1, 2005 Watchtower an article appeared, “Parents—What Future Do You Want for Your Children?which would alter the outlook of the Witnesses towards higher education once again. Why was another adjustment necessary?

 

Basically, since the November 1, 1992 Watchtower article appeared, more than fourteen years of academic freedom of choice caused many young Witnesses throughout the world to include more education after completing high school, and, upon graduation, they were not working part-time and pursuing full-time service goals anymore. Not only were Witness youths attending colleges and universities, but many adult Witnesses went back to school, enrolling in college and universities where they took courses to equip themselves for better paying jobs. From evaluating the reports of their traveling representatives, the consensus at Witness headquarters was that parents were being swept along by the spirit of competition for material advancement and success for their children and for themselves. This sentiment was expressed at a number of Kingdom Ministry Schools (seminars for Witness overseers) where Witnesses were said to be “taking advantage” of the new stance on college, going beyond getting education that would make it easier to pioneer or provide for their families. These were said to be “trying to make a name for themselves” in this world. Accordingly, this trend had to be reined in. Therefore, it was the October 1, 2005 Watchtower article’s purpose to redefine higher education in the minds of the ‘flock.’ It focused them back on technical and vocational schools which offered short-term courses for their children, which always had a certain amount of subdued approval within the group.

 

The October 1, 2005 Watchtower made clear that university or college for four or more years, leading to a bachelor’s degree or to postgraduate studies for careers in medicine, law, engineering, and so forth, was out. Thereafter, criticism began of any Witness attending college or university for instruction in high-paying specialized fields. But how to convince the flock that attending college was not in their best interests, and that they should be satisfied with short-term supplementary education? Part of the Governing Body’s strategy was to attempt to prove—by using secular arguments, current research and studies—that earning a university degree was not a guarantee of successful job placement, and that the cost for a Witness youth could be higher than what it was worth.

 

Another Flip-flop?

 

As a side note, Independent Lens, which is a weekly program featured on National Public Television (NPT) in the United States, “introduces new documentaries and dramas made by independent” filmmakers. KNOCKING is just such a new documentary that Independent Lens is airing across America on many Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) during 2007. As advertised on PBS, the program, KNOCKING, “opens the door on Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

 

On their NPT/PBS Internet website a distinctive web-page is dedicated to exploring the “myths and realities of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”[6] The following is one of the so-called “Myths’ listed along with a “Reality”:

 

Jehovah's Witnesses made many erroneous predictions that the world was ending by a certain time, which financially ruined the lives of members who never sought college education or careers.

Over the course of the Witnesses’ 130-year history, there have been periods of Armageddon predictions. Witnesses felt their belief in the imminent end of this world and the start of God’s Kingdom was not compatible with the need for a higher education leading to a lucrative career in a doomed, manmade system. Also, the preaching work of Witnesses did not require a college degree, therefore the pursuit of higher education was discouraged. But in 1995, the Witnesses officially ended their belief that tied the coming of Armageddon to the lifespan of anyone alive today, saying instead it is coming "soon." Witnesses whose circumstances allow are encouraged to do full-time ministry; about 10 percent do so. Now, many young Witnesses attend college.

 

If the above quoted “Reality” statement is true, then it would appear Witnesses can attend college without criticism from their leaders. However, this essay is not arguing the pros and cons of whether a university education is in the best interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but is a criticism of the Watchtower for misrepresenting secular quotations by taking them out of context to reinforce Witness ideology for that particular point in time.

 

Alleged Proof For Not Attending College

 

In the first eight paragraphs of the October 1, 2005 Watchtower article discussing higher education, there are many Biblical texts quoted to assist stressed parents to come to a decision as they try to make educational decisions for their children’s future in harmony with their religious beliefs. The Watchtower points out that “High school students today are under tremendous pressure from teachers, counselors, and fellow students to aim for enrollment in the best universities, where they will hopefully earn the degrees that can open for them doors to promising and well-paying jobs.” A question is asked in paragraph 8: [S]hould they [parents] simply let their children be swept along by the spirit of competition [italics mine] for material advancement and success?” To Witness parents, this question rang ominously. The Watchtower Society has often condemned competition using Galatians 5:26: “Let us not become egotistical, stirring up competition with one another.”

 

Further, under the first subheading, “The Cost of Pursuing Higher Education,” in paragraphs 9-13, there are again many scriptures found, but, in addition, there are four secular references quoted to direct the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ parents to the downside of allowing their children to go to college or university. Explained in these paragraphs are the costs of pursuing higher education, such as: 1. Expense. “…quality higher education is fast becoming the domain of the rich and influential, who put their children through it to ensure that they too become the rich and influential of this system. Should Christian parents choose such a goal for their children?” 2. Strings attached. “The education in some countries may be practically free, but the price that the students pay is a life engrossed in advancing the present system.” 3. Environment. “University and college campuses are notorious for bad behavior—drug and alcohol abuse, immorality, cheating, hazing, and the list goes on.” 4. Pressure of schoolwork and examinations. “All of this takes a great deal of their time and energy. What, then, will be left for spiritual activities?” And then the Watchtower asks: “How sad that some have fallen away from the faith as a result of succumbing to the demands on their time and energy or of getting entangled in unscriptural conduct at college!” 

 

Next, under the subheading, “What Are the Alternatives,” after scriptural quotations were inserted to influence parents and children to not follow what is popular, but to pick subjects and vocation goals that are geared to pursuing a theocratic career, paragraph 18 summed up the position of the Governing Body towards supplemental education: “Studies show that in many countries, there is an acute need, not for university graduates, but for people to work in the trades and services.” With that thought in mind, parents were encouraged to enroll their children in short courses in office skills, auto repair, computer repair, plumbing, hairdressing, and a host of other trades because these jobs “…offer the means and the flexibility needed by those whose true vocation is service to Jehovah.”

 

Misrepresentation of Secular Quotes

 

Again, the purpose of this essay is not to denigrate personal or religious views of which type of higher education, if any, is acceptable to a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many of the Watchtower points could be construed as valid by many non-Witness parents. Rather, this essay will point out that if secular sources are used to influence Witnesses’ decisions regarding higher education, they should not be misrepresented. Aristotle once observed, “The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand fold.” Particularly is this true when tens of millions of people believe what they read in the Watchtower journal.

 

On page 29 of the Watchtower article under discussion, is a side-box where information is quoted from four secular sources which in all four cases, this essay argues, were misrepresented. Also examined is a quote taken from an Op-Ed New York Times article found in paragraph 9 of the Watchtower article. It is apparent that by quoting distinguished people who have examined the higher education picture, the Watchtower had hoped to prove that obtaining a college degree does not translate into a good job. But is this what the experts were saying? First of all, here is what is found in that side-box:

 

What Is the Value of Higher Education?

Most people who enroll in a university look forward to earning a degree that will open doors for them to well-paying and secure jobs. Government reports show, however, that only about one quarter of those who go to college earn a degree within six years—a dismal success rate. Even so, does that degree translate into a good job? Note what current research and studies have to say.

“Going to Harvard or Duke [universities] won’t automatically produce a better job and higher pay. . . . Companies don’t know much about young employment candidates. A shiny credential (an Ivy League degree) may impress. But after that, what people can or can’t do counts for more.”—Newsweek, November 1, 1999.

“While today’s typical job requires higher skills than in the past . . . , the skills required for these jobs are strong high school-level skills—math, reading, and writing at a ninth-grade level . . . , not college-level skills. . . . Students do not need to go to college to get a good job, but they do need to master high school-level skills.”—American Educator, Spring 2004.

“Most colleges are seriously out of step with the real world in getting students ready to become workers in the postcollege world. Vocational schools . . . are seeing a mini-boom. Their enrollment grew 48% from 1996 to 2000. . . . Meanwhile, those expensive, time-sucking college diplomas have become worth less than ever.”—Time, January 24, 2005.

“Projections from the U.S. Department of Labor through 2005 paint the chilling scenario that at least one-third of all four-year college graduates will not find employment that matches their degrees.”—The Futurist, July/August 2000.

In view of all of this, more and more educators are seriously doubting the value of higher education today. “We are educating people for the wrong futures,” laments the Futurist report. In contrast, note what the Bible says about God: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”—Isaiah 48:17, 18.

 

 

1) Newsweek, November 1, 1999

The following is the first quote found in the Watchtower side-box. Does the Watchtower's use of these statements honestly reflect the author’s intended meaning?

 

“Going to Harvard or Duke [universities] won’t automatically produce a better job and higher pay. . . . Companies don’t know much about young employment candidates. A shiny credential (an Ivy League degree) may impress. But after that, what people can or can’t do counts for more.”—

 

This is the context of the above quote from Newsweek: the quoted text is highlighted in yellow. The full article is in Appendix 1 at the end of this essay.

 

We all "know" that going to college is essential for economic success. The more prestigious the college, the greater the success. It's better to attend Yale or Stanford than, say, Arizona State. People with the same raw abilities do better and earn more by graduating from an elite school. The bonus flows (it's said) from better connections, brighter "peers," tougher courses or superior professors. Among many parents, the terror that their children won't go to the "right" college has supported an explosion of guidebooks, counselors and tutoring companies to help students in the admissions race. The trouble is that what everyone knows isn't true. Going to Harvard or Duke won't automatically produce a better job and higher pay. Graduates of these schools generally do well. But they do well because they're talented. Had they chosen colleges with lesser nameplates, they would (on average) have done just as well. The conclusion is that the Ivy League--a metaphor for all elite schools--has little comparative advantage. They may expose students to brilliant scholars and stimulating peers. But the schools don't make the students' success. Students create their own success; this makes the schools look good

 

The explanation is probably simple. At most colleges, students can get a good education if they try. "An able student who attends a lower tier school can find able students to study with," write Dale and Krueger. Similarly, even elite schools have dimwits and deadbeats. Once you're in the job market, where you went to college may matter for a few years, early in your career. Companies don't know much about young employment candidates. A shiny credential (an Ivy League degree) may impress. But after that, what people can or can't do counts for more. Skills grow. Reputations emerge. Companies prefer the competent from Podunk to the incompetent from Princeton.

 

Is the author, Robert J. Samuelson, saying that going to college is worthless? A degree does not translate into a good job? No. It is obvious that he’s saying that success does not have to be measured by going to an Ivy League college. He said, “Had they chosen colleges with lesser nameplates, they would (on average) have done just as well.”

Mr. Samuelson contended that on average, no matter what college a student attended if (s)he was talented there would be no difference in earnings after graduation. The theme of the article was that no matter what college students go to, if they did not apply themselves, were dimwits or deadbeats, companies would not hire them. There is nowhere in the article that suggests that college is not a guarantee of success. It is saying success comes from discipline, motivation and talent, no matter what college students attend.

2) American Educator, Spring 2004

 

While today’s typical job requires higher skills than in the past, the skills required for these jobs are strong high school-level skills—math, reading, and writing at a ninth-grade level, not college-level skills Students do not need to go to college to get a good job, but they do need to master high school-level skills.

 

The following is the context of the above quote from American Educator (the quoted text is highlighted in yellow): The full article is in Appendix 2 at the end of this essay.

 

Second, researchers who analyze jobs and talk to employers find that while today’s typical job requires higher skills than in the past (when many jobs required only physical strength), the skills required for these jobs are strong high school-level skills—math, reading, and writing at a ninth-grade level (Murnane and Levy, 1996), not college-level skills. Similarly, new research on the skills needed for many good jobs (meaning those that pay enough to support a family and have the potential for advancement) are also high school-level skills, such as four years of English and mathematics through Algebra II (American Diploma Project, 2004). Unfortunately, over 40 percent of high-school seniors lack ninth-grade math skills and 60 percent lack ninth-grade reading skills (Murnane and Levy, 1996). So students do not need to go to college to get a good job, but they do need to master high school-level skills. Research shows that greater mastery of these skills in high school leads to higher earnings over time: For youth who get no college degree, a rise of one letter grade in their high school grade point average (from C to B) is associated with a 13 percent earnings gain at age 28! That’s almost as much as the pay differential associated with a bachelor’s degree, which is just over 14 percent more than students without a college degree (Miller, 1998; Rosenbaum, 2001). Solid high school skills prepare students for entry-level positions and keep the door to promotions open (Rosenbaum, 2001).

 

In the introduction to his article, Mr. Rosenbaum believes that it is a mistake to encourage students to attend college despite their poor academic preparation. The major theme of his article is that “The vast majority of students who don’t do well in high school would be better off, in terms of future income, finding a good job than going to college.” This article is about “competency” of youths who are college bound, but should not be. Because employers cannot trust that a high school diploma certifies competency, they would rather use “college degrees to signal that applicants possess high school skills. If, instead, the high schools provided trusted signals of high school competencies, the pressure to send all students to college could diminish.”

 

In no way is Mr. Rosenbaum saying that a college or university degree does not translate into a good job, as the first paragraph contained in the Watchtower article’s box on page 29 leads us to believe. No one is disputing the statements quoted from the American Educator article in the box. However, it is contextual dishonesty to quote parts of many statements and to use the words to bolster an argument that the author never intended to make in his article.

 

3) Time, January 24, 2005

 

Most colleges are seriously out of step with the real world in getting students ready to become workers in the postcollege world. Vocational schools … are seeing a mini-boom. Their enrollment grew 48% from 1996 to 2000 … Meanwhile, those expensive, time-sucking college diplomas have become worth less than ever.

 

The following is the context of the above quote from Time magazine (the quoted text is highlighted in yellow): The full article can be found in Appendix 3 at the end of this essay.

 

Social scientists are starting to realize that a permanent shift has taken place in the way we live our lives. In the past, people moved from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to adulthood, but today there is a new, intermediate phase along the way. The years from 18 until 25 and even beyond have become a distinct and separate life stage, a strange, transitional never-never land between adolescence and adulthood in which people stall for a few extra years, putting off the iron cage of adult responsibility that constantly threatens to crash down on them. They're betwixt and between. You could call them twixters …

 

There are several lessons about twixters to be learned from Swann's tale. One is that most colleges are seriously out of step with the real world in getting students ready to become workers in the postcollege world. Vocational schools like DeVry and Strayer, which focus on teaching practical skills, are seeing a mini-boom. Their enrollment grew 48% from 1996 to 2000. More traditional schools are scrambling to give their courses a practical spin. In the fall, Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., will introduce a program called the Odyssey project, which the school says will encourage students to "think outside the book" in areas like "professional and leadership development" and "service to the world." Dozens of other schools have set up similar initiatives.

 

As colleges struggle to get their students ready for real-world jobs, they are charging more for what they deliver. The resulting debt is a major factor in keeping twixters from moving on and growing up. Thirty years ago, most financial aid came in the form of grants, but now the emphasis is on lending, not on giving. Recent college graduates owe 85% more in student loans than their counterparts of a decade ago, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. In TIME's poll, 66% of those surveyed owed more than $10,000 when they graduated, and 5% owed more than $100,000. (And this says nothing about the credit-card companies that bombard freshmen with offers for cards that students then cheerfully abuse. Demos, a public-policy group, says credit-card debt for Americans 18 to 24 more than doubled from 1992 to 2001.) The longer it takes to pay off those loans, the longer it takes twixters to achieve the financial independence that's crucial to attaining an adult identity, not to mention the means to get out of their parents' house.

 

Meanwhile, those expensive, time-sucking college diplomas have become worth less than ever. So many more people go to college now--a 53% increase since 1970--that the value of a degree on the job market has been diluted. The advantage in wages for college-degree holders hasn't risen significantly since the late 1990s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To compensate, a lot of twixters go back to school for graduate and professional degrees. Swann, for example, is planning to head back to business school to better his chances in the insurance game. But piling on extra degrees costs precious time and money and pushes adulthood even further into the future.

 

Granted the article said, “Vocational schools are seeing a mini-boom” and “college diplomas have become worth less than ever,” we have to read the quoted sentences in context to understand the author’s intent. This Time article is not advancing the thought that vocational schools are the way to go. This is an examination of the “Twixters,” young adults who can’t settle down after graduating college. The point of using twixter, Matt Swann’s experience, was not to malign university education, especially since Matt was a university graduate, but to teach several lessons about twixters from Swann’s tale. In fact, if anything, the article is saying that graduating college is not enough, but to make enough money to support themselves, twixters have to go back to school for graduate and professional degrees. Mr. Swann is, for example, is planning to head back to school to better his chances in his chosen field.

 

4) The Futurist, July/August 2000

 

“Projections from the U.S. Department of Labor through 2005 paint the chilling scenario that at least one-third of all four-year college graduates will not find employment that matches their degrees.” [and] “We are educating people for the wrong futures.”

 

The following is the context of the above quote from The Futurist magazine (the quoted text is highlighted in yellow): The full article can be found in Appendix 4 at the end of this essay.

 

We are educating people for the wrong futures. Most young Americans expect to have high-status and high-paying jobs. Almost one in three expects to have a professional career. Ten percent expect to work in the sports or entertainment industry. Another 10% think they will be doctors.

The reality is that traditional societal high-status jobs are in decline. The American Bar Association Journal reported that, of the law school class of 1988, 84.5% had full-time legal jobs six months after graduation. In contrast, only 69.6% of the 1994 class did, and 15.3% had no jobs-part time or otherwise.

Projections from the U.S. Department of Labor through 2005 paint the chilling scenario that at least one-third of all four-year college graduates will not find employment that matches their degrees. For those with graduate degrees in virtually all professional fields, graduates will exceed employment opportunities by at least 50%!

Meanwhile, few young people imagine themselves working in service, craft, or technical industries. Yet government labor and economic indicators predict these business sectors will create most new jobs over the next 10 to 15 years. Many economists believe that 70% of the good jobs in the current and future American economy will not require a  four-year college degree; rather, they will require some form of additional training and education, such as an associate degree or  technical training certificate. More than 190,000 professional technical jobs are now vacant, as employers search in vain for qualified applicants. By 2005, U.S. business will need more than one million new high-tech workers. Not only does America have an educational shortfall for a large part of its population, it is also schooling too many in its better-educated segment for the wrong occupations.

What is needed is a new definition of "career" that focuses less on a progression up a career ladder in a profession or corporation and more on recognizing opportunities and adapting. Rather than focusing on a one-career preparation path, current and future workers need a higher quality of education that integrates general knowledge in both the arts and sciences with emerging technology.

What Companies Are Doing

Nearly seven of 10 employers surveyed in 1998 said that high-school graduates lack the skills to succeed at work. The National Association of Manufacturers reported that 40% of all 17-year-olds do not have the math skills, and 60% lack the reading skills, to hold down a production job at a manufacturing company.

These gloomy surveys point to the basic reasons for the unrelenting competition for skilled labor. If businesses are to get the work force they need to succeed in the future, they must become more active in at least two ways: (1) by partnering with their local community and education system to create realistic career-preparation programs and (2) by investing in training their own employees-and developing them by encouraging lifelong learning.

 

The statements taken out of The Futurist article were seriously slanted to bolster a very biased argument by the Watchtower journal. Note that Watchtower’s author first lifts out of Mr. Gordon’s article projections of a U.S. Department of Labor report. Does the fact that this report state that one-third of all four-year college graduates will not find employment that matches their degrees prove that a degree does not translate into a good job? No. The important words in the quote are, “matches their degrees.” The point of this article is about changing labor needs in the future will call for a different kind of education, or a higher quality of education that will produce high-tech workers. Gordon is critical of today’s schools because they are educating too many for the wrong occupations and that’s why his article’s opening words are: “We are educating people for the wrong futures.” The author’s concerns are for meeting educational challenges for employment and life in the new millennium which include “lifelong learning.” Rather than “having a one-career preparation path,” Gordon explains, “current and future workers need a higher quality of education that integrates general knowledge in both the arts and sciences with emerging technology.” He talks about the future need for “new, more agile twenty-first century schools” which “will be far more responsive to the ever-evolving labor market demands of the global, technology-driven new economy.” This is an article about reinventing education, not “educators seriously doubting the value of higher education today,” as Watchtower contends in its side-box on page 29.  

Other authors agree with Mr. Gordon’s position on this matter. For instance, Alan Deal points out in the magazine, Radiant Living, “The need for continuous training is a reality for almost every industry.”  Explaining this point further, Mr. Deal states, “the number of years it takes the cumulative knowledge that exists to double has been dropping at an exponential rate since the end of the 19th century. The speed at which information changes and industry advances makes the need for continuous training a reality for almost every industry.” [7] So both Mr. Gordon and Mr. Deal agree that lifelong or continuous education will be the reality for the future labor force, not Watchtower’s claims that high school and possibly some vocational school is just fine for everyone.

New York Times, Op-Ed, April 30, 2004

 

The final example of contextual dishonesty is in paragraph 9 of the Watchtower article itself:

 

When we think of cost, we usually think of financial expenditures. In some countries, higher education is government sponsored and qualified students do not have to pay fees or tuition. In most places, however, higher education is expensive and is getting more so. A New York Times Op-Ed article observes: “Higher education used to be regarded as an engine of opportunity. Now it’s certifying the gap between the haves and the have-lesses.” In other words, quality higher education is fast becoming the domain of the rich and influential, who put their children through it to ensure that they too become the rich and influential of this system. Should Christian parents choose such a goal for their children?—Philippians 3:7, 8; James 4:4.

 

Could it be construed that this New York Times article is saying that, “quality higher education is fast becoming the domain of the rich and influential, who put their children through it to ensure that they too become the rich and influential of this system”? Does this mean Witnesses should not go to university because it would demonstrate that their goal was to be rich and influential in this system?

 

The following is the context of the above quote from the New York Times (the quoted text is highlighted in yellow): The full article can be found in Appendix 5 at the end of this essay.

 

Admissions decisions are, more and more, based on statistical models that leave little room for hunches about character and potential. The paper credentials of students -- A averages and high SAT scores -- don't necessarily translate into intellectual fireworks. Many top-performing high school students are burnt out by the time they're freshmen, while working-class teenagers and community college transfers with less sterling records arrive with a hunger for learning and often fare at least as well.

 

These new models are also intended to increase revenues by shrinking scholarships -- what the new breed of ''enrollment managers'' calls the discount from the tuition sticker price. In an environment where admissions offices are sometimes referred to as profit centers, the ''full payers,'' students from wealthy families, are in greatest demand. In addition, aid, which has historically been based on need, is increasingly being granted on academic merit. A dozen states have also adopted this approach, awarding millions of dollars a year in merit scholarships to students who would have attended college anyway, instead of helping those who otherwise can't afford an education.

 

The bottom line is that five out of every six qualified seniors whose families earn more than $75,000 -- but fewer than half of those whose families earn less than $25,000 -- enroll in a four-year college. Higher education used to be regarded as an engine of opportunity. Now it's certifying the gap between the haves and the have-lesses.

 

What's to be done? An infusion of need-based aid is critical for public universities. The market would be fairer if rivals committed themselves to recruiting at working-class and inner-city schools; to democratizing access to good college advising; and to making need, not market savvy, the basis for financial aid.

 

The current focus on admission inequities provides an opening for a long-overdue public discussion about what's wrong with market-driven higher education -- a discussion that identifies the spheres where money shouldn't be the coin of the realm. Paradoxically, market-based concerns -- anxiety about the outsourcing of jobs for knowledge workers -- may be the Sputnik crisis of this era, prompting changes in higher education that make it easier for teenagers who don't come from affluence to get the education needed to compete for those jobs.

 

Upon examination, we find the author, David L. Kirp, contends that there is indeed a “wealth gap” between those who can afford to go to college and those who cannot. It is an inequity that needs a remedy. The author asks, “What’s to be done?” One remedy he suggests is, “An infusion of need-based aid is critical for public universities.” And this is the crux of his argument. Obviously, he’s not suggesting boycotting colleges. Fixes are already taking place and Mr. Kirp is all for “prompting changes in higher education that make it easier for teenagers who don’t come from affluence to get the education needed to compete for those jobs.”

Conclusion

 

Obviously, a degree does not guarantee a good job in today's tough economic market. Nevertheless, misrepresenting secular sources to discourage Jehovah's Witnesses from attending college or university merely because there are downsides, and because the Watchtower organization claims there is little value in attending, is not ethical or honest. The five quotations discussed above have been dishonestly presented by this organization -- no surprise in view of its track record. Watchtower writers routinely indulge in out-of-context quotation or misrepresentation of source references to convince Jehovah's Witnesses of the Watchtower's unique worldview.

 

That this is not the first time the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses has allowed such misrepresentation is shown by an essay published in Baylor University's Journal of Church and State in December 2005. It clearly exposed multiple misrepresentations in the Watchtower Society's primary explanation for its prohibition of blood transfusions, on which individual Jehovah's Witnesses often base life-and-death decisions.[8]

 

Alan Feuerbacher, a longtime critic of the way Watchtower authors lift quotations from secular sources to use to their own advantage, informally interviewed the editor of Awake! magazine, Harry Peloyan, on August 27, 1997, regarding errors of fact and interpretation in Jehovah's Witnesses' literature. From the text of Feuerbacher's interview with Peloyan, I extracted this:

 

"Peloyan's overall attitude about using quotations in a way the original author would disagree with was that it did not matter. As long as the words were quoted properly, the author's intent was irrelevant."

 

Feuerbacher made it clear to Peloyan during the interview that he strongly disagreed with this unscholarly attitude as all honest authors and readers would.

 

For a religious organization to rely on secular sources to bolster their religious claims, and also to influence its followers, is illogical. Personal decisions made in religious matters should be based on religious studies leading to a sincere personal belief system and not upon statements expressed in secular reports.

 

Moreover, if a religion chooses to quote in its literature non-religious material and then misrepresents the references to suit some arbitrary purpose, the reader could make life-altering and incorrect decisions solely based on the statements that were fraudulently manipulated. And in this matter of higher education, it appears from examining the five secular sources quoted in the October 1, 2005 Watchtower, the contents of secular writings were misrepresented, which, in turn, misled Jehovah’s Witnesses and other readers of this magazine to a conclusion not intended by the secular writers.

 

Appendices

Appendix 1

 

Newsweek

Published, November 1, 1999

Section: National Affairs

Edition: U.S. EDITION

Page: 45

 

The Worthless Ivy League?

It's no guarantee of success. Podunk's competent grads will beat Princeton's incompetents

 

By Robert J. Samuelson

 

We all "know" that going to college is essential for economic success. The more prestigious the college, the greater the success. It's better to attend Yale or Stanford than, say, Arizona State. People with the same raw abilities do better and earn more by graduating from an elite school. The bonus flows (it's said) from better connections, brighter "peers," tougher courses or superior professors. Among many parents, the terror that their children won't go to the "right" college has supported an explosion of guidebooks, counselors and tutoring companies to help students in the admissions race.

 

The trouble is that what everyone knows isn't true. Going to Harvard or Duke won't automatically produce a better job and higher pay. Graduates of these schools generally do well. But they do well because they're talented. Had they chosen colleges with lesser nameplates, they would (on average) have done just as well. The conclusion is that the Ivy League--a metaphor for all elite schools--has little comparative advantage. They may expose students to brilliant scholars and stimulating peers. But the schools don't make the students' success. Students create their own success; this makes the schools look good.

Evidence of this comes in a new study by Alan Krueger, an economist at Princeton, and Stacy Berg Dale, a researcher at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Until now, scholarly studies had found that elite colleges lifted their graduates' incomes beyond their natural abilities. The bonus was about 3 percent to 7 percent for every 100 points of difference in SAT scores between schools. Suppose you go to Princeton and I go to Podunk; Princeton SAT scores average 100 points higher than Podunk's. After correcting for other influences (parents' income, race, gender, SAT scores, high-school rank), studies found that you would still earn a bit more. If I make $50,000, then you might make $53,500 (that's 7 percent).

 

But Dale and Krueger suspected that even this premium--not huge--might be a statistical quirk. The problem, they write, "is that students who attend more elite colleges may have greater earnings capacity regardless of where they attend school." Characteristics important for admission "may also be rewarded in the labor market." What might these be? Discipline. Imagination. Ambition. Perseverance. Maturity. Some exceptional ability. Admissions officers may detect these characteristics from interviews or course difficulty (different from grade average). But earlier studies didn't capture these factors.

 

To do so, Dale and Krueger examined the 1976 freshmen of 34 colleges. They ranged from Yale, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore (highest in SAT scores) to Penn State and Denison University (lowest in scores). The SAT gap between top and bottom was about 200 points. Dale and Krueger knew which colleges had accepted and rejected these students as well as their future earnings. By 1995, male graduates with full-time jobs earned an average of $89,026; women earned $76,859.

 

Dale and Krueger then compared graduates who had been accepted and rejected by the same (or similar) colleges. The theory was that admissions officers were ranking personal qualities, from maturity to ambition. Students who fared similarly would possess similar strengths; then, Dale and Krueger compared the earnings of these students--regardless of where they went. There was no difference. Suppose that Princeton and Podunk accept you and me; but you go to Princeton and I go to Podunk. On average, we will still make the same. (The result held for blacks and whites, further weakening the case for race-based admission preferences. The only exception was poorer students, regardless of race; they gained slightly from an elite school.)

 

The explanation is probably simple. At most colleges, students can get a good education if they try. "An able student who attends a lower tier school can find able students to study with," write Dale and Krueger. Similarly, even elite schools have dimwits and deadbeats. Once you're in the job market, where you went to college may matter for a few years, early in your career. Companies don't know much about young employment candidates. A shiny credential (an Ivy League degree) may impress. But after that, what people can or can't do counts for more. Skills grow. Reputations emerge. Companies prefer the competent from Podunk to the incompetent from Princeton.

 

If you can't (or won't) take advantage of what Princeton offers, Princeton does no good. What students bring to college matters more than what colleges bring to students. The lesson has relevance beyond elite schools. As a society, we've peddled college as a cure for many ills. Society needs more skilled workers. So, send more students to college. College graduates earn much more than high-school graduates. So--to raise incomes--send more students to college. In that, we've succeeded. Perhaps three quarters of high-school graduates go to college, including community colleges.

 

But half or more don't finish. A new study from the Department of Education ("College for All?") reports that these students achieve only modest gains in skills and income. What determines who finishes? In another report, Clifford Adelman--a senior researcher at the Department of Education--finds that the most powerful factor is the difficulty of high-school courses. And the finding is strongest for black and Hispanic students. Not having enough money (inadequate financial aid) explains few dropouts. Tough courses do more than transmit genuine skills. They provide the experience--and instill the confidence--of completing something difficult.

 

How to motivate students to do their best? How to make high schools demanding while still engaging? How to transmit important values (discipline, resourcefulness, responsibility) to teenagers, caught in life's most muddled moment? These are hard questions for parents and society as a whole. If the answers were self-evident, we'd have already seized them. But going to college--even Harvard--is no shortcut.

 

Appendix 2

 

American Educator, Spring 2004

 

All Good Jobs Don't Require a College Degree...

But getting a good job without a college degree depends a lot on high school effort--and the support a high school provides.

 

By James E. Rosenbaum

 

Encouraging students to attend college despite their poor academic preparation is a practice based in part on the premise that all decent jobs require a college education. Although average earnings are higher for those with college degrees (Carnevale and Desrochers, 2002), it is easy to misread these numbers.

 

First, these averages conceal much variation. College degrees do not always have payoffs. And, college degrees are not required to enter many rewarding jobs, including construction trades, clerical and administrative support, auto and airplane mechanics, printing, graphics, financial services, and many government and social services. Union electricians, machinists, tool and die makers, and sheet-metal workers, for instance, have high-demand skills, excellent benefits, good working conditions, and annual salaries that often exceed $45,000 by age 28 (and are much higher with overtime).

 

Second, researchers who analyze jobs and talk to employers find that while today’s typical job requires higher skills than in the past (when many jobs required only physical strength), the skills required for these jobs are strong high school-level skillsmath, reading, and writing at a ninth-grade level (Murnane and Levy, 1996), not college-level skills. Similarly, new research on the skills needed for many good jobs (meaning those that pay enough to support a family and have the potential for advancement) are also high school-level skills, such as four years of English and mathematics through Algebra II (American Diploma Project, 2004). Unfortunately, over 40 percent of high-school seniors lack ninth-grade math skills and 60 percent lack ninth-grade reading skills (Murnane and Levy, 1996). So students do not need to go to college to get a good job, but they do need to master high school-level skills. Research shows that greater mastery of these skills in high school leads to higher earnings over time: For youth who get no college degree, a rise of one letter grade in their high school grade point average (from C to B) is associated with a 13 percent earnings gain at age 28! That’s almost as much as the pay differential associated with a bachelor’s degree, which is just over 14 percent more than students without a college degree (Miller, 1998; Rosenbaum, 2001). Solid high school skills prepare students for entry-level positions and keep the door to promotions open (Rosenbaum, 2001).

 

Third, employers report that for many jobs, non-academic skills (like timeliness, diligence, and social competence) are key (Shapiro and Iannozzi, 1999). Analyses of a national survey indicate that students’ educational attainment and earnings nine years after graduating from high school are significantly related to their non-cognitive behaviors in high school--sociability, discipline, leadership, homework time, and attendance--even after controlling for background characteristics and academic achievement (Rosenbaum, 2001). High schools can provide these skills just as well as colleges can.

 

Fourth, for some low-achieving high school students, getting a good job after high school can be more lucrative than trying to earn a college degree. As we saw in the main article, only about 14 percent of students with C averages or lower in high school earn a college degree (B.A. or A.A.). Of these low-GPA high school students, those who do complete a B.A. will typically earn 4.3 percent more than students without a college degree--but this is less than one-third the extra earnings that the typical college graduate enjoys. Those with low high school GPAs who earn an A.A. will typically earn 7.2 percent less than high school graduates with no college degree (Rosenbaum, 2001).

 

So the vast majority of students who don’t do well in high school would be better off, in terms of future income, finding a good job than going to college. But their ability to find out about these jobs, prepare for them, and get placed in them depends a lot on the support they get from their high school. Indeed, vocational teachers report that they are able to help students get jobs, even students from disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities. They can accomplish this because they provide employers with trusted recommendations about students? social skills and work habits.

 

Currently, about 9 percent of work-bound high school graduates get jobs after graduation through school-based job placement (mostly from vocational teachers). These students have 17 percent higher earnings by age 28 than students who find their own jobs after high school (Rosenbaum, 2001). Moreover, school-based job placement helps more blacks and females than white males (Rosenbaum 2001), so it helps students who normally have the greatest difficulties in the labor market.

 

The true lesson of the new labor market is this: For many of the skilled jobs in the new economy, what students really need is to acquire good work habits and solid high school-level skills. But, employers argue that they cannot trust that the high school diploma certifies knowledge of these high school-level skills. As a result, employers report using college degrees to signal that applicants possess high school skills. If, instead, the high schools provided trusted signals of high school competencies, the pressure to send all students to college could diminish. And let’s not forget that high schools can do a lot to help their non-college bound youth find productive jobs and lead fulfilling lives.

Appendix 3

 

Time

Published, Jan. 24, 2005

 

Grow Up? Not So Fast

MEET THE TWIXTERS. THEY'RE NOT KIDS ANYMORE, BUT THEY'RE NOT ADULTS EITHER. WHY A NEW BREED OF YOUNG PEOPLE WON'T--OR CAN'T?--SETTLE DOWN

 

By Lev Grossman

 

Michele, Ellen, Nathan, Corinne, Marcus and Jennie are friends. All of them live in Chicago. They go out three nights a week, sometimes more. Each of them has had several jobs since college; Ellen is on her 17th, counting internships, since 1996. They don't own homes. They change apartments frequently. None of them are married, none have children. All of them are from 24 to 28 years old.

 

Thirty years ago, people like Michele, Ellen, Nathan, Corinne, Marcus and Jennie didn't exist, statistically speaking. Back then, the median age for an American woman to get married was 21. She had her first child at 22. Now it all takes longer. It's 25 for the wedding and 25 for baby. It appears to take young people longer to graduate from college, settle into careers and buy their first homes. What are they waiting for? Who are these permanent adolescents, these twenty something Peter Pans? And why can't they grow up?

 

Everybody knows a few of them--full-grown men and women who still live with their parents, who dress and talk and party as they did in their teens, hopping from job to job and date to date, having fun but seemingly going nowhere. Ten years ago, we might have called them Generation X, or slackers, but those labels don't quite fit anymore. This isn't just a trend, a temporary fad or a generational hiccup. This is a much larger phenomenon, of a different kind and a different order.

 

Social scientists are starting to realize that a permanent shift has taken place in the way we live our lives. In the past, people moved from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to adulthood, but today there is a new, intermediate phase along the way. The years from 18 until 25 and even beyond have become a distinct and separate life stage, a strange, transitional never-never land between adolescence and adulthood in which people stall for a few extra years, putting off the iron cage of adult responsibility that constantly threatens to crash down on them. They're betwixt and between. You could call them twixters.

 

Where did the twixters come from? And what's taking them so long to get where they're going? Some of the sociologists, psychologists and demographers who study this new life stage see it as a good thing. The twixters aren't lazy, the argument goes, they're reaping the fruit of decades of American affluence and social liberation. This new period is a chance for young people to savor the pleasures of irresponsibility, search their souls and choose their life paths. But more historically and economically minded scholars see it differently. They are worried that twixters aren't growing up because they can't. Those researchers fear that whatever cultural machinery used to turn kids into grownups has broken down, that society no longer provides young people with the moral backbone and the financial wherewithal to take their rightful places in the adult world. Could growing up be harder than it used to be?

 

The sociologists, psychologists, economists and others who study this age group have many names for this new phase of life--"youthhood," "adultescence"--and they call people in their 20s "kidults" and "boomerang kids," none of which have quite stuck. Terri Apter, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge in England and the author of The Myth of Maturity, calls them "thresholders."

 

Apter became interested in the phenomenon in 1994, when she noticed her students struggling and flailing more than usual after college. Parents were baffled when their expensively educated, otherwise well-adjusted 23-year-old children wound up sobbing in their old bedrooms, paralyzed by indecision. "Legally, they're adults, but they're on the threshold, the doorway to adulthood, and they're not going through it," Apter says. The percentage of 26-year-olds living with their parents has nearly doubled since 1970, from 11% to 20%, according to Bob Schoeni, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan.

 

Jeffrey Arnett, a developmental psychologist at the University of Maryland, favors "emerging adulthood" to describe this new demographic group, and the term is the title of his new book on the subject. His theme is that the twixters are misunderstood. It's too easy to write them off as overgrown children, he argues. Rather, he suggests, they're doing important work to get themselves ready for adulthood. "This is the one time of their lives when they're not responsible for anyone else or to anyone else," Arnett says. "So they have this wonderful freedom to really focus on their own lives and work on becoming the kind of person they want to be." In his view, what looks like incessant, hedonistic play is the twixters' way of trying on jobs and partners and personalities and making sure that when they do settle down, they do it the right way, their way. It's not that they don't take adulthood seriously; they take it so seriously, they're spending years carefully choosing the right path into it.

 

But is that all there is to it? Take a giant step backward, look at the history and the context that led up to the rise of the twixters, and you start to wonder, Is it that they don't want to grow up, or is it that the rest of society won't let them?

 

SCHOOL DAZE

Matt Swann is 27. He took 6½ years to graduate from the University of Georgia. When he finally finished, he had a brand-spanking-new degree in cognitive science, which he describes as a wide-ranging interdisciplinary field that covers cognition, problem solving, artificial intelligence, linguistics, psychology, philosophy and anthropology. All of which is pretty cool, but its value in today's job market is not clear. "Before the '90s maybe, it seemed like a smart guy could do a lot of things," Swann says. "Kids used to go to college to get educated. That's what I did, which I think now was a bit naive. Being smart after college doesn't really mean anything. 'Oh, good, you're smart. Unfortunately your productivity's s___, so we're going to have to fire you.'

 

College is the institution most of us entrust to watch over the transition to adulthood, but somewhere along the line that transition has slowed to a crawl. In a TIME poll of people ages 18 to 29, only 32% of those who attended college left school by age 21. In fact, the average college student takes five years to finish. The era of the four-year college degree is all but over.

 

Swann graduated in 2002 as a newly minted cognitive scientist, but the job he finally got a few months later was as a waiter in Atlanta. He waited tables for the next year and a half. It proved to be a blessing in disguise. Swann says he learned more real-world skills working in restaurants than he ever did in school. "It taught me how to deal with people. What you learn as a waiter is how to treat people fairly, especially when they're in a bad situation." That's especially valuable in his current job as an insurance-claims examiner.

 

There are several lessons about twixters to be learned from Swann's tale. One is that most colleges are seriously out of step with the real world in getting students ready to become workers in the postcollege world. Vocational schools like DeVry and Strayer, which focus on teaching practical skills, are seeing a mini-boom. Their enrollment grew 48% from 1996 to 2000. More traditional schools are scrambling to give their courses a practical spin. In the fall, Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., will introduce a program called the Odyssey project, which the school says will encourage students to "think outside the book" in areas like "professional and leadership development" and "service to the world." Dozens of other schools have set up similar initiatives.

 

As colleges struggle to get their students ready for real-world jobs, they are charging more for what they deliver. The resulting debt is a major factor in keeping twixters from moving on and growing up. Thirty years ago, most financial aid came in the form of grants, but now the emphasis is on lending, not on giving. Recent college graduates owe 85% more in student loans than their counterparts of a decade ago, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. In TIME's poll, 66% of those surveyed owed more than $10,000 when they graduated, and 5% owed more than $100,000. (And this says nothing about the credit-card companies that bombard freshmen with offers for cards that students then cheerfully abuse. Demos, a public-policy group, says credit-card debt for Americans 18 to 24 more than doubled from 1992 to 2001.) The longer it takes to pay off those loans, the longer it takes twixters to achieve the financial independence that's crucial to attaining an adult identity, not to mention the means to get out of their parents' house.

 

Meanwhile, those expensive, time-sucking college diplomas have become worth less than ever. So many more people go to college now--a 53% increase since 1970--that the value of a degree on the job market has been diluted. The advantage in wages for college-degree holders hasn't risen significantly since the late 1990s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To compensate, a lot of twixters go back to school for graduate and professional degrees. Swann, for example, is planning to head back to business school to better his chances in the insurance game. But piling on extra degrees costs precious time and money and pushes adulthood even further into the future.

 

WORK IN PROGRESS

Kate Galantha, 29, spent seven years working her way through college, transferring three times. After she finally graduated from Columbia College in Chicago (major: undeclared) in 2001, she moved to Portland, Ore., and went to work as a nanny and as an assistant to a wedding photographer. A year later she jumped back to Chicago, where she got a job in a flower shop. It was a full-time position with real benefits, but she soon burned out and headed for the territories, a.k.a. Madison, Wis. "I was really busy but not accomplishing anything," she says. "I didn't want to stay just for a job."

She had no job offers in Madison, and the only person she knew there was her older sister, but she had nothing tying her to Chicago (her boyfriend had moved to Europe) and she needed a change. The risk paid off. She got a position as an assistant at a photo studio, and she loves it. "I decided it was more important to figure out what to do and to be in a new environment," Galantha says. "It's exciting, and I'm in a place where I can accomplish everything. But starting over is the worst."

 

Galantha's frenetic hopping from school to school, job to job and city to city may look like aimless wandering. (She has moved six times since 1999. Her father calls her and her sister gypsies.) But Emerging Adulthood's Arnett--and Galantha--see it differently. To them, the period from 18 to 25 is a kind of sandbox, a chance to build castles and knock them down, experiment with different careers, knowing that none of it really counts. After all, this is a world of overwhelming choice: there are 40 kinds of coffee beans at Whole Foods Market, 205 channels on DirecTV, 15 million personal ads on Match.com and 800,000 jobs on Monster.com Can you blame Galantha for wanting to try them all? She doesn't want to play just the hand she has been dealt. She wants to look through the whole deck. "My problem is I'm really overstimulated by everything," Galantha says. "I feel there's too much information out there at all times. There are too many doors, too many people, too much competition."

 

Twixters expect to jump laterally from job to job and place to place until they find what they're looking for. The stable, quasi-parental bond between employer and employee is a thing of the past, and neither feels much obligation to make the relationship permanent. "They're well aware of the fact that they will not work for the same company for the rest of their life," says Bill Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington. "They don't think long-term about health care or Social Security. They're concerned about their careers and immediate gratification."

 

Twixters expect a lot more from a job than a paycheck. Maybe it's a reaction to the greed-is-good 1980s or to the whatever-is-whatever apathy of the early 1990s. More likely, it's the way they were raised, by parents who came of age in the 1960s as the first generation determined to follow its bliss, who want their children to change the world the way they did. Maybe it has to do with advances in medicine. Twixters can reasonably expect to live into their 80s and beyond, so their working lives will be extended accordingly and when they choose a career, they know they'll be there for a while. But whatever the cause, twixters are looking for a sense of purpose and importance in their work, something that will add meaning to their lives, and many don't want to rest until they find it. "They're not just looking for a job," Arnett says. "They want something that's more like a calling, that's going to be an expression of their identity." Hedonistic nomads, the twixters may seem, but there's a serious core of idealism in them.

 

Still, self-actualization is a luxury not everybody can afford, and looking at middle- and upper-class twixters gives only part of the picture. Twixters change jobs often, but they don't all do it for the same reasons, and one twixter's playful experimentation is another's desperate hustling. James C. is a sociologist at the University of Western Ontario and the author of several books about twixters, including Generation on Hold and Arrested Adulthood. He believes that the economic bedrock that used to support adolescents on their journey into adulthood has shifted alarmingly. "What we're looking at really began with the collapse of the youth labor market, dating back to the late '70s and early '80s, which made it more difficult for people to get a foothold in terms of financial independence," James C. says. "You need a college degree now just to be where blue- collar people the same age were 20 or 30 years ago, and if you don't have it, then you're way behind." In other words, it's not that twixters don't want to become adults. They just can't afford to.

 

One way society defines an adult is as a person who is financially independent, with a family and a home. But families and homes cost money, and people in their late teens and early 20s don't make as much as they used to. The current crop of twixters grew up in the 1990s, when the dotcom boom made Internet millions seem just a business proposal away, but in reality they're worse off than the generation that preceded them. Annual earnings among men 25 to 34 with full-time jobs dropped 17% from 1971 to 2002, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Timothy Smeeding, a professor of economics at Syracuse University, found that only half of Americans in their mid-20s earn enough to support a family, and in TIME'S poll only half of those ages 18 to 29 consider themselves financially independent. Michigan's Schoeni says Americans ages 25 and 26 get an average of $2,323 a year in financial support from their parents.

 

The transition to adulthood gets tougher the lower you go on the economic and educational ladder. Sheldon Danziger, a public-policy professor at the University of Michigan, found that for male workers ages 25 to 29 with only a high school diploma, the average wage declined 11% from 1975 to 2002. "When I graduated from high school, my classmates who didn't want to go to college could go to the Goodyear plant and buy a house and support a wife and family," says Steve Hamilton of Cornell University's Youth and Work Program. "That doesn't happen anymore." Instead, high school grads are more likely to end up in retail jobs with low pay and minimal benefits, if any. From this end of the social pyramid, Arnett's vision of emerging adulthood as a playground of self-discovery seems a little rosy. The rules have changed, and not in the twixters' favor.

 

WEDDINGS CAN WAIT

With everything else that's going on--careers to be found, debts to be paid, bars to be hopped--love is somewhat secondary in the lives of the twixters. But that doesn't mean they're cynical about it. Au contraire: among our friends from Chicago--Michele, Ellen, Nathan, Corinne, Marcus and Jennie--all six say they are not ready for marriage yet but do want it someday, preferably with kids. Naturally, all that is comfortably situated in the eternally receding future. Thirty is no longer the looming deadline it once was. In fact, five of the Chicago six see marriage as a decidedly post-30 milestone.

"It's a long way down the road," says Marcus Jones, 28, a comedian who works at Banana Republic by day. "I'm too self-involved. I don't want to bring that into a relationship now." He expects to get married in his mid- to late 30s. "My wife is currently a sophomore in high school," he jokes.

 

"I want to get married but not soon," says Jennie Jiang, 26, a sixth-grade teacher. "I'm enjoying myself. There's a lot I want to do by myself still."

 

"I have my career, and I'm too young," says Michele Steele, 26, a TV producer. "It's commitment and sacrifice, and I think it's a hindrance. Lo and behold, people have come to the conclusion that it's not much fun to get married and have kids right out of college."

That attitude is new, but it didn't come out of nowhere. Certainly, the spectacle of the previous generation's mass divorces has something to do with the healthy skepticism shown by the twixters. They will spend a few years looking before they leap, thank you very much. "I fantasize more about sharing a place with someone than about my wedding day," says Galantha, whose parents split when she was 18. "I haven't seen a lot of good marriages."

 

But if twixters are getting married later, they are missing out on some of the social-support networks that come with having families of their own. To make up for it, they have a special gift for friendship, documented in books like Sasha Cagen's Quirkyalone and Ethan Watters' Urban Tribes, which asks the not entirely rhetorical question Are friends the new family? They throw cocktail parties and dinner parties. They hold poker nights. They form book groups. They stay in touch constantly and in real time, through social-networking technologies like cell phones, instant messaging, text messaging and online communities like Friendster. They're also close to their parents. TIME'S poll showed that almost half of Americans ages 18 to 29 talk to their parents every day.

 

Marrying late also means that twixters tend to have more sexual partners than previous generations. The situation is analogous to their promiscuous job-hopping behavior--like Goldilocks, they want to find the one that's just right--but it can give them a cynical, promiscuous vibe too. Arnett is worried that if anything, twixters are too romantic. In their universe, romance is totally detached from pragmatic concerns and societal pressures, so when twixters finally do marry, they're going to do it for Love with a capital L and no other reason. "Everybody wants to find their soul mate now," Arnett says, "whereas I think, for my parents' generation--I'm 47--they looked at it much more practically. I think a lot of people are going to end up being disappointed with the person that's snoring next to them by the time they've been married for a few years and they realize it doesn't work that way."

 

TWIXTER CULTURE

When it comes to social change, pop culture is the most sensitive of seismometers, and it was faster to pick up on the twixters than the cloistered social scientists. Look at the Broadway musical Avenue Q, in which puppets dramatize the vagaries of life after graduation. ("I wish I could go back to college," a character sings. "Life was so simple back then.") Look at that little TV show called Friends, about six people who put off marriage well into their 30s. Even twice-married Britney Spears fits the profile. For a succinct, albeit cheesy summation of the twixter predicament, you couldn't do much better than her 2001 hit I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.

The producing duo Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, who created the legendarily zeitgeisty TV series thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, now have a pilot with ABC called 1/4life, about a houseful of people in their mid-20s who can't seem to settle down. "When you talk about this period of transition being extended, it's not what people intended to do," Herskovitz says, "but it's a result of the world not being particularly welcoming when they come into it. Lots of people have a difficult time dealing with it, and they try to stay kids as long as they can because they don't know how to make sense of all this. We're interested in this process of finding courage and one's self."

 

As for movies, a lot of twixters cite Garden State as one that really nails their predicament. "I feel like my generation is waiting longer and longer to get married," says Zach Braff, 29, who wrote, directed and starred in the film about a twentysomething actor who comes home for the first time in nine years. "In the past, people got married and got a job and had kids, but now there's a new 10 years that people are using to try and find out what kind of life they want to lead. For a lot of people, the weight of all the possibility is overwhelming."

 

Pop culture may reflect the changes in our lives, but it also plays its part in shaping them. Marketers have picked up on the fact that twixters on their personal voyages of discovery tend to buy lots of stuff along the way. "They are the optimum market to be going after for consumer electronics, Game Boys, flat-screen TVs, iPods, couture fashion, exotic vacations and so forth," says David Morrison, president of Twentysomething Inc., a marketing consultancy based in Philadelphia. "Most of their needs are taken care of by Mom and Dad, so their income is largely discretionary. [Many twentysomethings] are living at home, but if you look, you'll see flat-screen TVs in their bedrooms and brand-new cars in the driveway." Some twixters may want to grow up, but corporations and advertisers have a real stake in keeping them in a tractable, exploitable, pre-adult state--living at home, spending their money on toys.

 

LIVING WITH PETER PAN

Maybe the twixters are in denial about growing up, but the rest of society is equally in denial about the twixters. Nobody wants to admit they're here to stay, but that's where all the evidence points. Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey, a large sociological data-gathering project run by the National Opinion Research Center, found that most people believe that the transition to adulthood should be completed by the age of 26, on average, and he thinks that number is only going up. "In another 10 or 20 years, we're not going to be talking about this as a delay. We're going to be talking about this as a normal trajectory," Smith says. "And we're going to think about those people getting married at 18 and forming families at 19 or 20 as an odd historical pattern."

 

There may even be a biological basis to all this. The human brain continues to grow and change into the early 20s, according to Abigail Baird, who runs the Laboratory for Adolescent Studies at Dartmouth. "We as a society deem an individual at the age of 18 ready for adult responsibility," Baird points out. "Yet recent evidence suggests that our neuropsychological development is many years from being complete. There's no reason to think 18 is a magic number." How can the twixters be expected to settle down when their gray matter hasn't?

 

A new life stage is a major change, and the rest of society will have to change to make room for it. One response to this very new phenomenon is extremely old-fashioned: medieval-style apprenticeship programs that give high school graduates a cheaper and more practical alternative to college. In 1996 Jack Smith, then CEO of General Motors, started Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES), a program that puts high school kids in shops alongside seasoned car mechanics. More than 7,800 students have tried it, and 98% of them have ended up working at the business where they apprenticed. "I knew this was my best way to get into a dealership," says Chris Rolando, 20, an AYES graduate who works at one in Detroit. "My friends are still at pizza-place jobs and have no idea what to do for a living. I just bought my own house and have a career."

 

But success stories like Rolando's are rare. Child welfare, the juvenile-justice system, special-education and support programs for young mothers usually cut off at age 18, and most kids in foster care get kicked out at 18 with virtually no safety net. "Age limits are like the time limits for welfare recipients," says Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist who heads a research consortium called the MacArthur Network on Transitions to Adulthood. "They're pushing people off the rolls, but they're not necessarily able to transition into supportive services or connections to other systems." And programs for the poor aren't the only ones that need to grow up with the times. Only 54% of respondents in the TIME poll were insured through their employers. That's a reality that affects all levels of society, and policymakers need to strengthen that safety net.

 

Most of the problems that twixters face are hard to see, and that makes it harder to help them. Twixters may look as if they have been overindulged, but they could use some judicious support. Apter's research at Cambridge suggests that the more parents sympathize with their twixter children, the more parents take time to discuss their twixters' life goals, the more aid and shelter they offer them, the easier the transition becomes. "Young people know that their material life will not be better than their parents'," Apter says. "They don't expect a safer life than their parents had. They don't expect more secure employment or finances. They have to put in a lot of work just to remain O.K." Tough love may look like the answer, but it's not what twixters need.

 

The real heavy lifting may ultimately have to happen on the level of the culture itself. There was a time when people looked forward to taking on the mantle of adulthood. That time is past. Now our culture trains young people to fear it. "I don't ever want a lawn," says Swann. "I don't ever want to drive two hours to get to work. I do not want to be a parent. I mean, hell, why would I? There's so much fun to be had while you're young." He does have a point. Twixters have all the privileges of grownups now but only some of the responsibilities. From the point of view of the twixters, upstairs in their childhood bedrooms, snuggled up under their Star Wars comforters, it can look all downhill.

 

If twixters are ever going to grow up, they need the means to do it--and they will have to want to. There are joys and satisfactions that come with assuming adult responsibility, though you won't see them on The Real World. To go to the movies or turn on the TV is to see a world where life ends at 30; these days, every movie is Logan's Run. There are few road maps in the popular culture--and to most twixters, this is the only culture--to get twixters where they need to go. If those who are 30 and older want the rest of the world to grow up, they'll have to show the twixters that it's worth their while. "I went to a Poster Children concert, and there were 40-year-olds still rocking," says Jennie Jiang. "It gave me hope." --With reporting by Nadia Mustafa and Deirdre van Dyk/ New York, Kristin Kloberdanz/ Chicago and Marc Schultz/ Atlanta

 

Appendix 4

 

The Futurist, July/August 2000

Help wanted: Creating tomorrow's work force

 

By Edward E. Gordon

We are educating people for the wrong futures. Most young Americans expect to have high-status and high-paying jobs. Almost one in three expects to have a professional career. Ten percent expect to work in the sports or entertainment industry. Another 10% think they will be doctors.

The reality is that traditional societal high-status jobs are in decline. The American Bar Association Journal reported that, of the law school class of 1988, 84.5% had full-time legal jobs six months after graduation. In contrast, only 69.6% of the 1994 class did, and 15.3% had no jobs-part time or otherwise.

Projections from the U.S. Department of Labor through 2005 paint the chilling scenario that at least one-third of all four-year college graduates will not find employment that matches their degrees. For those with graduate degrees in virtually all professional fields, graduates will exceed employment opportunities by at least 50%!

Meanwhile, few young people imagine themselves working in service, craft, or technical industries. Yet government labor and economic indicators predict these business sectors will create most new jobs over the next 10 to 15 years. Many economists believe that 70% of the good jobs in the current and future American economy will not require a  four-year college degree; rather, they will require some form of additional training and education, such as an associate degree or  technical training certificate. More than 190,000 professional technical jobs are now vacant, as employers search in vain for qualified applicants. By 2005, U.S. business will need more than one million new high-tech workers. Not only does America have an educational shortfall for a large part of its population, it is also schooling too many in its better-educated segment for the wrong occupations.

What is needed is a new definition of "career" that focuses less on a progression up a career ladder in a profession or corporation and more on recognizing opportunities and adapting. Rather than focusing on a one-career preparation path, current and future workers need a higher quality of education that integrates general knowledge in both the arts and sciences with emerging technology.

What Companies Are Doing

Nearly seven of 10 employers surveyed in 1998 said that high-school graduates lack the skills to succeed at work. The National Association of Manufacturers reported that 40% of all 17-year-olds do not have the math skills, and 60% lack the reading skills, to hold down a production job at a manufacturing company.

These gloomy surveys point to the basic reasons for the unrelenting competition for skilled labor. If businesses are to get the work force they need to succeed in the future, they must become more active in at  least two ways: (1) by partnering with their local community and education system to create realistic career-preparation programs and (2) by investing in training their own employees-and developing them by encouraging lifelong learning.

This is already beginning to happen. About one of every four employers now takes part in a career education program. For example: Boeing has begun offering paid apprenticeships or sponsoring local "tech-prep" programs for high school students in communities where their operations are located across the United States.

Siemens introduced apprenticeships to its American operations in 1992. The company now trains about 13,000 apprentices in 20 countries, including 25 programs at 19 sites across the United States. A solid academic curriculum is combined with hands-on practical training. Intel's hands-on science centers were so successful with students that the New Mexico State Department of Education adopted them as a model for schools. Intel has also introduced high school computer-technology classes and workplace learning opportunities for students and teachers.

What these companies have learned is that investing in human resources through such education programs is good for the bottom line, such as employee retention. Companies participating in career education often experience a much lower turnover rate among their younger workers (ages 18 to 26). Businesses that offered a career-education program through a local school had a youth-worker turnover rate of 25%, compared with 50% for employers who didn't participate in career education, according to a 1998 Census Bureau study. But in addition to working with schools, businesses should focus on their own workers who lack education or who need to be retrained for the next generation of technology. Employers an make these workers more adaptable by investing in performance-improvement programs that can be applied to everyday business needs.

Workers must first and foremost "learn how to learn"-how to actively acquire new skills as their old ones lose value and fade away in the marketplace. The new economy rewards passion, agility, creativity, initiative, and independent thinking qualities that too many businesses discourage by withholding continuous education from employees. Let us now consider several key challenges of the new Education Revolution and the role of the business community:

Challenge #1: Educational Choice

For Tony E. Fulton, a Maryland state delegate, the last straw was the day he tried to buy venetian blinds at a linen store in Baltimore. Not only was the store worker, a recent high-school graduate, unable to

convert measurements in feet to inches, but neither the worker nor the store manager could be convinced of the importance of being able to do such a calculation.

Across America, staggering numbers of adults and children are poorly educated because too many local public and private schools have enshrined outdated curricula and bureaucratic form over the necessary educational substance required for life in the new millennium. We need to open many smaller local schools offering diverse curricula that better develop individual abilities and encourage students toward potential careers. Compared with the current old-economy school model, these new, more agile twenty-first century schools will be far more responsive to the ever-evolving labor market demands of the global, technology-driven new economy.

Educational choice is essentially a new funding policy that seeks to reinvent public education, offering a wider variety of local schools organized and run by teacher cooperatives, parent associations, nonprofit corporations, community-based organizations, and religious institutions.

Parents would be free to match their children to the school that best meets their needs. Many industrial nations-Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Holland, among others-have already established alternative school choices that have improved academic quality and promoted class, racial, and religious equity.

Challenge #2: Employing The Unemployable

The falling unemployment rate has piqued the interest of more businesses in hiring the "hardcore" unemployed. Recent corporate welfare-to-work programs that have risen to the challenge of using these workers to fill entry-level positions include those at Sprint, United Parcel Service, American Airlines, United Airlines, Borg-Warner Security, Intel, and The Limited. Approximately 2,500 companies have similarly pledged to hire and train workers from the welfare rolls.

This is all to the good, but significant problems persist. After six to 12 months, many programs discover that only 40% of these new welfare-to-work employees are left on the job. Successful strategies-those that keep workers from losing their new jobs-address several problems afflicting the program participants, including limited work histories or no prior job connections, poor technical skills, child-care problems, the perception of going to work as an unknown or threatening experience, and the lack of role models to teach them the behavior patterns necessary to succeed in jobs. A "job support toolbox" is needed to overcome these problems, including longer-term education, intensive personal coaching, and job-specific, customized training that promotes long-term job retention. And all these educational and supportive service activities must be built around one major foundation: concurrent, effective on-the-job training.

Challenge #3: Teaching "Old Dogs" New Tricks

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, maximizing the critical competencies of older workers will emerge as a major, necessary business goal. In the late 1980s, futurists predicted that a shortage of people in the U.S. labor market was coming. Many scoffed at this notion. No longer. With the American labor force projected to grow by only 11 % between 1996 and 2006, companies will have difficulty filling job openings.

There are big changes under way in the age makeup of the U.S. labor force. By 2006, the size of the 35-44 age group (considered the most productive years) will shrink by about 1 %; meanwhile, those 45-54 years old will increase by over 8%o, and (more significantly) those 55-64 will increase by over 6%. This means a major rethinking of the old practice of laying off or retiring people in these age groups as "less productive" because they can't or won't be retrained. Business has little choice in this regard. Unless we find successful ways to "reprocess" older employees' knowledge acquisition, we just won't have enough people to go around.

Challenge #4: Matching School Technology To Needs

Much of the technology available in today's schools does little to advance student learning, because both hardware and software are outdated and inadequate. But a greater problem is that the industry that makes the equipment and software and the educators who want it usually have no clue about how to use it. And many educators agree that standard computer literacy doesn't necessarily generate the literacy that counts in reading, writing, and math. Too often students use the technology not to gather and understand information but to design nifty graphics. Indeed, the Internet may breed a kind of intellectual laziness. "The Net's ability to find and list mountains of data is no substitute for figuring out how to organize that information," says sociologist Sherry Turkle of MIT.

For the business community, these are serious issues. Not only do we need more workers receiving a working knowledge of infotech from their basic education-we need them at higher levels of literacy to interpret and manipulate the information that drives these technologies. Unless schools do a better job of making infotech education a successful learning tool, the average business will be unable to use the technology of a high-performance workplace to boost productivity successfully.

Challenge #5: Updating The Teaching Profession

It is ludicrous to expect teachers to teach science, math, or any other subject if they haven't seriously studied the subject themselves. According to the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, nearly a quarter of all high-school teachers do not even have the equivalent of a college minor in their subjects. The proportion is even higher for math and science teachers.

This is a major contributing cause to the steady decline in degrees awarded in computer and information sciences. We need excellently prepared teachers motivating more students to pursue infotech careers.

Since 1992, public-school principals, superintendents, and school board members have been enrolled in Motorola's "leadership institutes." These classes teach how to cope with changes in education and the uses of technology. Six states now host these institutes: Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Other high-tech firms offer educators programs in the communities where many of their employees live. In 1995, IBM began a three-year online advice program on  a variety of classroom topics for teachers in 21 school districts. Other businesses need to offer similar outreach educational programs to educators in their local communities.

Investing Now for A Better Tomorrow

Throughout the 1990s, many experts, including this writer, have advocated business investment in a wide range of human-capital productivity strategies. But until now, many companies were too worried about controlling costs to think about any major investments in long-term training and education programs for current or future employees.

With profits hitting 40-year highs, more organizations now can begin to take a longer view and devote more resources to work-force education. Also, the low unemployment rate and current labor-market demographics give corporate America powerful incentives to lift the skill levels of current workers, as well as to hire marginal workers who need retraining.

Reengineering gurus Michael Hammer and James Champy have recommended that companies quadruple their investment in education. "Training is about skills; education is about understanding broad knowledge," they write in Reengineering the Corporation. "Everybody who works in a company needs to understand the business. . . . We want workers to make decisions, and they can't do that without a knowledge about the business context."

The rewards of this investment are tangible: Cornell University labor professor Theresa Welbourne studied 136 companies that went public after 1988. Of those that invested in workforce education and developed human capital as strategic assets, 92% still survived by 1993-and had gained 87% in the stock market. Of those that focused only on short term profits, just 36% had survived-and had lost 18% of their market value.

Organizations are not just machines filled with technology that are supposed to do the same tasks over and over again. They are brains holding and refining their  human capital-the collected wisdom, the critical competencies, of everyone associated with the  business. Winning the skill wars means negotiating the transition of your human capital from stressing mass and bulk to emphasizing knowledge and understanding. Harvesting knowledge will always be more profitable than harvesting wheat or soybeans.

Appendix 5

 

Op-Ed New York Times

Published: April 30, 2004

 

And the Rich Get Smarter

 

By David L. Kirp (NYT)

 

Yet another string of studies confirms what any high school senior or parent who has just weathered the college admissions mating dance already knew -- it's a cutthroat competition where money matters more than ever. Teenagers from wealthy families are beating out middle- and working-class youngsters, both at top private colleges and flagship state universities whose historic mission of broad access is receding into memory. The trend means that ''smart poor kids,'' as the educator Terry Hartle bluntly puts it, ''go to college at the same rate as stupid rich kids.''

 

A lot of not-so-secret factors are at play in this market. In pursuit of competitive advantage, well-off parents spend thousands of dollars on test prep courses, college admission summer camps and ''dress for success'' counseling. They are more adept than their less well-heeled rivals at working the system; that brings results, especially at prestigious universities.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, the inequity is worsening as cash-starved state schools are forced to raise tuition -- an average of 14 percent last year. For fall 2003, for example, community college fees in California rose to $18 a class hour from $11. Though that typically amounts to only about $100 a semester, enrollment was more than 100,000 below the state's projections. Why? Sticker shock scares away poorer students from even applying.

 

The one bright spot is that academic leaders are now discussing this wealth gap. William Bowen, the former president of Princeton, made headlines when he assailed elite colleges -- presumably including his own -- as ''bastions of privilege'' and urged putting ''a thumb on the scale'' for poor students. Amherst's president, Anthony Marx, has made the same argument. Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, announced that parents who earn less than $40,000 a year will no longer be asked to contribute financially to their offspring's education. That's a start, but much more is needed if such students are going to be a presence in Harvard Yard.

 

Those who run universities bear considerable responsibility for creating these inequities -- and not only in admissions. These trends are just the most visible sign of how much the market ethic has come to dominate higher education. To be sure, dollars have always greased the wheels of academe. What is new and troubling is the raw power that money exerts over all of higher education, including the emphasis on research that adds less to the storehouse of knowledge than to the institutional coffers, and the shift from liberal arts to the ''practical arts.'' While competition has strengthened some colleges, embedded in the very idea of university are values the market does not honor: the belief in a community of scholars and not a confederacy of self-seekers; in the idea of openness and not ownership; and in the student as an acolyte whose preferences are to be formed, not a consumer whose preferences are to be satisfied.

 

The operations of admissions offices display the marketers' handiwork. Consider the reliance on early admissions. That practice has no academic justification, just a market rationale -- the crucial U.S. News & World Report rankings stress selectivity, and colleges favor early decision because those accepted are expected to enroll. Going this route improves a student's chances by as much as 50 percent, but only those whose families don't have to shop around for the best aid package can afford to take advantage of this version of affirmative action.

 

Admissions decisions are, more and more, based on statistical models that leave little room for hunches about character and potential. The paper credentials of students -- A averages and high SAT scores -- don't necessarily translate into intellectual fireworks. Many top-performing high school students are burnt out by the time they're freshmen, while working-class teenagers and community college transfers with less sterling records arrive with a hunger for learning and often fare at least as well.

 

These new models are also intended to increase revenues by shrinking scholarships -- what the new breed of ''enrollment managers'' calls the discount from the tuition sticker price. In an environment where admissions offices are sometimes referred to as profit centers, the ''full payers,'' students from wealthy families, are in greatest demand. In addition, aid, which has historically been based on need, is increasingly being granted on academic merit. A dozen states have also adopted this approach, awarding millions of dollars a year in merit scholarships to students who would have attended college anyway, instead of helping those who otherwise can't afford an education.

 

The bottom line is that five out of every six qualified seniors whose families earn more than $75,000 -- but fewer than half of those whose families earn less than $25,000 -- enroll in a four-year college. Higher education used to be regarded as an engine of opportunity. Now it's certifying the gap between the haves and the have-lesses.

What's to be done? An infusion of need-based aid is critical for public universities. The market would be fairer if rivals committed themselves to recruiting at working-class and inner-city schools; to democratizing access to good college advising; and to making need, not market savvy, the basis for financial aid.

 

The current focus on admission inequities provides an opening for a long-overdue public discussion about what's wrong with market-driven higher education -- a discussion that identifies the spheres where money shouldn't be the coin of the realm. Paradoxically, market-based concerns -- anxiety about the outsourcing of jobs for knowledge workers -- may be the Sputnik crisis of this era, prompting changes in higher education that make it easier for teenagers who don't come from affluence to get the education needed to compete for those jobs.

           

 

 

-End-

 

 



[1]  “What Influences Decisions in Your Life?” The Watchtower (15 March 1969): 171.

[2]  “What Future for the Young?” Awake! (22 May 1969): 15.

[3]  “Education With a Purpose,” The Watchtower (1 November 1992): 16-9.

[4]  Ibid, 20.

[5]  Ibid, 19-20.

[6] http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/knocking/myths.html

[7] Alan Deal, P.E., “Don’t Wait To Educate” Radiant Living (FALL 2006): 6

[8]  How Can Blood Save Your Life? (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. 1990)


 


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