The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 19th, 2015
My undergraduates’ career plans are a
peculiar mix of naked ambition and hair-shirt altruism. If they pursue
investment banking, they do so not merely to make money. Rather, they
wish to use their eventual wealth to distribute solar light bulbs to
every resident of a developing nation. They’ll apply to the finest law
schools in hopes of some day judging war criminals at The Hague.
Countless want to code. They dream of engineering an app that will make
tequila flow out of thin air into your outstretched shot glass. My
students, I suspect, are receiving their professional advice from a
council of emojis.
There is one occupation, however, that rarely figures in their
reveries. Few of these kids hanker to become professors. Maybe that’s
because undergraduates no longer believe that the university is where
the life of the mind is lived. Or perhaps they are endowed with acute
emotional intelligence; they intuit that their instructors are sort of
sad and broken on the inside. It’s also possible that the specter of
entombing oneself in a study carrel does not appeal to them.