“We must guard against the temptation to think that a (person)’s worth as an individual or (their) value to society can be measured by (an) aptitude for mathematics or languages. We must recognize that there are diversities of gifts, but whether it be plumbing or Plato that is in question, a society that is not to be condemned to mediocrity must demand the best of each.” Frank Aydelotte, ‘Breaking the Academic Lockstep’ (1944, p. 19)
For most students looking for a college or university, “the job” one gets at the end of college is more important than the college itself. This is totally understandable—each of us hopes to discover a vocation in life: something that is not just a job, but an occupation which will provide reasonable financial reward and will continue to engage and interest us through the years.
The word ‘vocation’ literally means a ‘calling.’ It has a religious root in Christian thinking, as many things do in American Higher education, but it can be—and is—used in a secular context. It is what distinguishes a ‘job’ from a ‘career.’ It is what Oprah has in mind when she tells us to ‘find your passion.’
Some colleges focus on training careerists in order to best support those students who have in mind specific vocations when they enter college. These colleges tailor the educational journey with that student’s ideal job as the primary goal and also support their entry into their chosen field with connections to these specific professional networks. Others focus on developing the character necessary to be a professional in today’s world.