When students get their high school diploma, it seems like the world couldn’t be sweeter. They have their colleges lined up, their dreams in front of them; it’s an exciting time. College is supposed to be this bridge to adulthood, the place where your dreams can come to fruition via the “perfect” degree program and study abroad opportunities. But is college really preparing students for real world experiences? Is the insane amount of student loan debt, worth a private school pedigree? Is there actually a J-O-B at the end?
Now as a disclaimer, I do believe in education and that certain programs and degrees can open up doors for students that otherwise, they couldn’t have been able to reach. However, I do believe colleges are doing their students a big disservice.
When you go into the financial aid office, they are fully ready to sign you up for loans, federal loans, Parent PLUS loans, or even to suggest private loans. There’s no emphasis on getting students to work part time while in school or discussions on whether your degree in Medieval history, will help you land a job. Why are they not discussing the fact that your degree should be marketable in today’s economy? Why not work with current companies and employers and discuss what positions they are in need of, and to then design degree programs to fit those needs? There’s so much complaining of the government and the student loan crisis and to them I’d say, I agree. But there is plenty blame to put on colleges and universities who live in a fake academia world where there doesn’t need to be a job at the end of this academic road.
They also don’t discuss what jobs will be available with those degree programs. For example, an English student maybe should learn to blog, periscope, get out on social media with their craft. But no. All the emphasis is drawn toward the scholarship of Shakespeare or British literature. There’s nothing wrong with learning about that but it needs to have a medium or an outlet for a student to make themselves marketable in that same field. There needs to be a practical way of getting a student to use their education in today’s market.
There’s also no discussion on ROI, Return on Investment for degree programs. For example, a Petroleum Engineering student, while a more marketable field, should know how much money he or she is fronting and what they’ll then make in that career, for the next 30 years. There should be more discussion in the offices before you sign up for a program or loans, hey, this may cost you $300,000 if you go to this school and it will only payout $40K a year maybe, assuming you can find a teaching job. Leading students down the rabbit hole and making them think their degree is the ticket to Willa Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, is wrong, dishonest, and misleading.
In today’s world, I think that degree certificate programs, internships, and state schools are all great investments in your educational future. They can provide all the necessary “today’s world” education and can help you determine what you actually like, for a fraction of the cost. But for students to go into college thinking that it’ll guarantee a job, or a job you would like, that’s just a pipe dream and false.
If colleges want to survive, they need to act like businesses. To do this, they need to have better career track counseling BEFORE they sign students up for programs. Get students educated on what jobs are out their, what employers want. They should stress internships and work on developing better relationships with local businesses. Career centers need to reach out to students to get them in the right programs for their interests by work with current companies to find out the needs and demands of today. By doing this, that will bring in the alumnae money back into the system, because their graduates won’t be broke and it can be a functional, self-sustaining process.
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