In a previous post, we discussed Professor Allen Guelzo’s very interesting article in connection with “The Aims of Evangelical Education.” Here, we would like to highlight a particular issue raised by Professor Guelzo in that article.
He points out that the de facto purpose of America’s system of colleges and universities has become that of credentialing prospective entrants into the job market by the awarding of diplomas. The ranking of institutions of higher learning has assumed the importance in American life that it has precisely because the main purpose of colleges and universities has become that of credentialing. The higher the ranking of the college or university one attends, the higher the prestige attached to one’s credential. And the higher the prestige attached to one’s credential, the higher-paying job one may aspire to.
Professor Guelzo concludes that:
No longer, then, can it be said that American higher education is in the business of education. In fact, it is in the business of conferring and recruiting prestige.
However, he goes on to say that such a purpose is inconsistent with the mission of Evangelical institutions of higher learning. In their case, he believes, it is essential that education in the true sense of the word be re-established as their genuine aim. That is because the special character of an Evangelical college cannot be simply credentialing if the college is to retain its Evangelical identity in any meaningful sense.
Here is what he has to say:
But Christian higher education, if it has any raison d’etre at all, is in the business of handing on a tradition, not of piling up research or conferring credentials—in other words, its real “core business” is education.