Education for Public Administration: Graduate Preparation in the Social Sciences at American Universities

By George A. Graham | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3 STUDENTS

PROBABLY THE MOST important part of educational policy is that concerning students. An educational institution succeeds or fails as it develops men and women, and in the long run its success must be measured in terms of the success of its graduates. A lot of thought may be given to the curriculum, and much money may be invested in books and buildings, but unless some attention is given to students as individuals, they will probably fail to develop as fully as possible. Professional education is training for action, and training for action can never get far from the coaching technique if it is to be successful. You cannot develop a man to the limit of his ability without noting his qualities, observing his performance, and giving intelligent advice and criticism.

The individual student is particularly important in postgraduate training for public administration. The curriculum is in an experimental stage; the universities have no accumulated prestige in this field; and the traditional means of recruiting for the public service still leave much to be desired. The future development of training for public administration depends more upon the success of students in demonstrating their worth than upon any other thing. A carefully considered policy on students is, therefore, one criterion of a well-conceived training program. Such a policy includes not only selection but also the attitude toward students in course and the school's relationship with graduates. These three parts are logically related, and all are essential to a consistent policy.


SELECTION OF STUDENTS

It is a matter of common sense to select carefully students who expect to go into public administration. The curriculum may have large gaps in it, and faculty members may be engaged in exploration rather than discovery; but if you get the right men together as students, they will give a good account of themselves after a few years of seasoning, regardless of the educational formula.1 Furthermore, no institution is rich

____________________
1
One university professor who has had some success in preparing men for public administration has been quoted as saying, in a confidential mood, that his function is "to keep his students on ice until the right openings come along." Others have observed that this professor "knows a smart boy when he sees one."

-25-

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