The Purposeful Graduate: Why Colleges Must Talk to Students about Vocation

University of Chicago Press
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We all know that higher education has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Historically a time of exploration and self-discovery, the college years have been narrowed toward an increasingly singular goal—career training—and college students these days forgo the big questions about who they are and how they can change the world and instead focus single-mindedly on their economic survival. In The Purposeful Graduate, Tim Clydesdale elucidates just what a tremendous loss this is, for our youth, our universities, and our future as a society. At the same time, he shows that it doesn’t have to be this way: higher education can retain its higher cultural role, and students with a true sense of purpose—of personal, cultural, and intellectual value that cannot be measured by a wage—can be streaming out of every one of its institutions.

The key, he argues, is simple: direct, systematic, and creative programs that engage undergraduates on the question of purpose. Backing up his argument with rich data from a Lilly Endowment grant that funded such programs on eighty-eight different campuses, he shows that thoughtful engagement of the notion of vocational calling by students, faculty, and staff can bring rich rewards for all those involved: greater intellectual development, more robust community involvement, and a more proactive approach to lifelong goals. Nearly every institution he examines—from internationally acclaimed research universities to small liberal arts colleges—is a success story, each designing and implementing its own program, that provides students with deep resources that help them to launch flourishing lives.

Flying in the face of the pessimistic forecast of higher education’s emaciated future, Clydesdale offers a profoundly rich alternative, one that can be achieved if we simply muster the courage to talk with students about who they are and what they are meant to do.
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About the author

Tim Clydesdale is professor of sociology at the College of New Jersey. He is the author of The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
May 6, 2015
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780226236483
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / General
Education / Higher
Religion / General
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the Trade Paperback edition.
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