A UBC within a UBC: Neoliberalism and the parallel college.
It’s a tired topic with many a-think piece. But honestly, this one in Harper’s is stellar. I particularly appreciate Deresiwicz’s formulation of the “parallel college” next to the existing one. He looks at how students are studying less, and creating parallel extracurriculars that train them for the skills they really need to succeed in the workforce:
As college is increasingly understood in terms of jobs and careers, and jobs and careers increasingly mean business, especially entrepreneurship, students have developed a parallel curriculum for themselves, a parallel college, where they can get the skills they think they really need. Those extracurriculars that students are deserting the classroom for are less and less what Pinker derides as “recreational” and more and more oriented toward future employment: entrepreneurial endeavors, nonprofit ventures, volunteerism. The big thing now on campuses — or rather, off them — is internships.
In response, the university itself is trying to adapt and create more of those kinds of programs:
That is why, around the country, even as they cut departments, starve traditional fields, freeze professorial salaries, and turn their classrooms over to adjuncts, colleges and universities are establishing centers and offices and institutes, and hiring coordinators and deanlets, and launching initiatives, and creating courses and programs [for career training, etc.]… Like their students, they are busy constructing a parallel college. What will happen to the old one now is anybody’s guess.