Dean Disgruntled

Dean Esmay, who is 37, is not happy with a system designed to get 18-22 year olds ready for adulthood. I can’t imagine why. I mean, he’s around the same age as several of his professors, so they should have a lot in common.

FILED UNDER: Education,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Myria says:

    Colleges and Universities are designed to get 18-22 year olds ready for adulthood? Huh, and here I thought their job was to educate people. Makes you wonder how 18 – 22 year olds who don’t go to college ever manage to become adults without four+ years of drunken spring breaks.

    College/University campuses are about the last place I’d go to see good examples of adult behavior.


  2. James Joyner says:

    They’re fundamentally designed to educate people just out of high school. Undergraduate education is simply not aimed at people who are in mid-career.

  3. Dean Esmay says:

    My complaints are a good deal more profound than that, James, and they run at several levels.

    The first is that we have reached a point where jobs which do not and should not require a college education now require one anyway. Indeed, I regularly encounter people with 20+ years of experience in the field, and proven records of performance, lose their jobs because employers start demanding college degrees. No complaint about performance or ability or anything else, just, “we only employ people with degrees.”

    The second is that, worldwide, while America’s grad schools are among the best in the world, America’s undergrad degrees are the laughingstock of most of the world. They are almost universally acknowledged to be inferior, even at some of the best-known universities. Many of our grad schools are the envy of the world, but America’s undergrad programs are routinely a mess. Instructors don’t much care if students learn, and indeed, learning itself seems to routinely be secondary to any other concern. Get the tuition money and get ’em through, and forget everything else.

    I am far from the only one to note this. I also have a large number of very bright, motivated friends with long careers who quit school in frustration for all these complaints, and they’ve gone to more than one school. I also know a number of people with college degrees, from schools all over the country, who view their own bachelor’s degrees with the same level of contempt that I view the one I’m working on now.

    I am a year and a half away from graduation, and I can honestly say I have learned almost nothing, but had hundreds of hours of my time and many thousands of dollars sucked away from me in the process. Should I have a right to find that annoying?

  4. Jane says:

    I completed an undergraduate degree as a mature student (and went on to complete an MA and an ABD, but that’s another pit o’ pain) and had the time of my life. I learned a lot in some classes and nothing in others, had smart and dumb professors…heck, it was just like Real Life in the Real Work World….only I got to watch tv in the middle of the day if I felt like it.

    I don’t get the carping, but then I suspect people who bitch about undergraduate life as mature students probably bitch about their jobs in the same way too.