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This article examines community-college students’ goals within the dominant framing of higher education, in which education serves primarily as preparation for the new economy. Specifically, it explores students’ motives for acquiring college credentials and how they apply the principles of utility and efficiency to their pursuit of those credentials. This examination of students’ strategies illuminates their assumptions about what is worth learning and how one learns and, in turn, how their hopes of “learning something” can lead to disappointment. Ultimately, this analysis illustrates the consequences of students’ highly instrumental goals for their participation in college and in college coursework.