I previously wrote on the story of Trina Thompson, 27, who, three months after graduating, sued Monroe College over her inability to land employment. Apparently, agencies big and small have been heaping scorn on Thompson. But Mark Gimein, an author for Slate magazine, has now published an articulate defense of Thompson, lambasting the methods and marketing of Monroe College. His article has also been picked up by New York magazine. Gimein writes:
The story of Thompson’s suit isn’t a one-liner about a grad too naive to know that graduating from college doesn’t guarantee a job. It’s a story about what ‘college’ means and about marginal, for-profit ‘colleges’ that squeeze four years of fees from their students and leave them with all the debt and little of the education or prospects that they counted on.
The essence of Gimein’s argument is that Monroe masquerades as a College (providing a liberal arts education) but is really more of a vocational, for-profit school (not unlike a trade school for auto mechanics):
As should be very clear to anyone who’s taken a look at what Monroe College is really about, however, what’s at stake is not a “liberal arts” education as anybody understands it. The difference between what Thompson was offered and what a traditional vocational school-the kind of “business institute” that Monroe once billed itself as-proposes comes down mainly to her education taking longer, costing more, and offering far less certain outcomes.
The magic word here is college. By presenting itself as a “college,” Monroe and similar institutions achieve the neat trick of offering a lot less for a lot more money. Hardly anyone would blink at the notion that an unhappy, unemployed graduate might sue a trade school for getting a raw deal. But by transmuting itself into a “college,” Monroe can siphon four full years of tuition from its students and at the end of it all dance away from any commitment, implicit or explicit, to find its students jobs because that’s not what a “college education” is about.