The vocationalism, the urge to be professional early so as to have something later, is lamentable, understandable, and manageable. There is no point in making students feel guilty about it, or in pretending that work in the world is beneath them, or in flaying today’s student because he is not yesterday’s, living in a van in Vermont. The vocationalism is not either wrong or foolish—if its pragmatism can be aimed, if that pragmatism can be attached to a purpose and that purpose to other people in some substantial way, and to larger purposes. The dangerous and debilitating vocationalism is the one that higher education, fearing for survival, is tempted to pander to rather than to pattern: a vocationalism that is merely self-regarding, that only narrows someone at eighteen down to anxiety about a job, that leaves him or her only with ambitions but no affiliations.

A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Private University and the Public Interest”, in A Free and Ordered Space: The Real World of the University