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It ain't your grandfather's education

Updated on September 9, 2012

College not for everybody

Forget the dorms College is different

Every term when I meet my students for the first time I ask them why they are here. There are many I want to advise to leave. They want a good job (picture executive); they want to transfer to a four year college. Their parents want them to get ahead. I tell them that college is different now. When I went to college you could major in liberal arts; you would be hired upon graduation not based on what you knew but because you had passed college classes for four years and so you had tenacity. The classes didn't have to have anything to do with the job. You were simply considered an educated person who could represent their company. Today if you don't know what you want to do when you graduate you had better figure it out fast. The jobs go to the most trained,the most educated in the field they wish to enter. I tell them they are in competetion with millions so they have to know more and have better skils

I tell them that yes you should follow your bliss and find a field you love but it has to be married to the marketplace. Train for what is needed. In four years teaching at one college I saw the graphic arts department shrink to almost nothing, when I started teaching there was no multi media department, when I finished there were ten professors and it was the fastest growintg department.There were many frustrated and angry graphic artists, but.I applauded anyone taking any courses in the health fields, traditional or holistic. I would roll my eyes if someone wanted to be an interiror decorator. OK if daddy is going to pay your bills.

The students didn't understand why good writing was important. I told them many employers would not even consider an applicant who couldn't write well because he or she may be writing to customers, suppliers, other employees. God help him if he couldn't spell. No business wanted to be represented by an employee who made glaring errors in writing. The same thing is true of business speech vs street speech. You had better know the difference. I told them that the path to success was no longer the traditional white collar. Those were the employees who used to climb the ladder; could count on benefits and promotions. Those companies would take care of you from college graduation until you retired with the gold watch. Those jobs are gone. I told them they needed to think twice about the trades and specialized training.

I asked them to picture the guy sitting on the couch who graduated with a degree in romance languages, waiting for his shift as a cab driver to start, while the ;plumber is in his bathroom making 35 dollars an hour fixing his toilet, in his rented apartmenI. I also told them to think smart if you want to teach they may want to follow a liberal arts education. If you want to be a professional then yes a four year college is for you and yes you will probably need a Masters degree. Within ten years some jobs will become obsolete while others come on line.It is their responsibility to stay updated on what is happening in the marketplace. That is where they will make their living. I think we should make every big bank and big corporation offer free training to the unemployed and those wanting to enter the job market. We couldn't make the bnks lend and the corporations continue to build wealth on the backs of taxpayers so make them do something constructive for all the people out there coming out of college or who have been laid off. Vocational schools were drained of their funding to make way for traditional college classes. Big mistake. Part of the reason colleges like high schools are turning out students who are not truly educated is that we have lowered the standards of academic classes so everybody can graduate. Most of those students should never have been college bound. Wake up America our young people need to be told the truth about the money they are putting out for a college educaation.

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    • Svea profile imageAUTHOR

      Svea 

      5 years ago from Florida

      We may be twins separated at birth. My background is journalism as well. I was a news anchor, reporter, talk show host and columnist. I think what happened after WWII was with the GI bill and the VA loan, yong men who thought they were doomed to live in the cities where they were born, probbly rural jobs or small family businesses...suddenly this new middle class lifestyle was possible. There was a ladder to success for awhile and all you needed was a college degree in something. Those jobs are long gone. Now young people face student loans for jobs that don't exist. Hence, we are back with the preWWII standard of living, multi generational housingt, living closer to the land

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 

      5 years ago

      We also have to find a way for people to live on the lower paying jobs. That sounds something like an oxymoron but people read about the millions coaches, sports figures and executives make. Then they hear about the people who start out at $100,000 a year and there they are flipping burgers or taking a civil service test to be a garbage collector. Everyone cannot enjoy the same level of luxury, but everyone should be able to provide for his family. I do not have an answer. Affordable health care is a good start. A credit for a person working two jobs, when the total income does not equal the pay of one decent job would also help.

      Colleges that start preparing students for careers in the freshman year instead of waiting to the junior or sophomore year. Why does a person interested in English literature, who may become a writer, have to take advance math and science courses. Why do people majoring in accounting have to take history courses that do not interest them. Colleges and universities need to throw away the catalog that says what course you will take each semester and work out a plan of study for each student based on their previous high school grades, their ambitions and other similar factors. The mass production of college graduates needs to end. The specialized training for people needs to start.

    • Svea profile imageAUTHOR

      Svea 

      5 years ago from Florida

      I couldn't agree more. There are two major problems i think Right now the Western world needs fewer workers beyond service low paying jobs. I don't see that changing which is why I cringe where I hear Romney talk about these new jobs. The ones that are higher paying are fewer, highly competetive and require extenive training and knowledge not a liberal arts degree for which you are paying high interest student loans. The middle class is disappearing for just this reason. We are now in a world that we will have adjust to. At the turn of the century capitalists needed workers; they don't know so unions and strikes are useless.

      We have to adjust to a new way of living

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 

      5 years ago

      You make a very good point. I graduated with a journalism degree--liberal arts. I worked in journalism related fields for 38 years. I was fortunate. Now unemployed, I fund that employers do not want to spend anytime training, they want pre-trained people who only have to be told where the restroom is on their first day.

      There was a time when we recognize a college graduate who had the ability to learn and who had displayed interests in certain fields, but was not locked to those fields.

      Today, at the age of 17, you are expected to decide a college major, get accepted to a major college, have technical or advance training in the career that will be in demand four years from now and have an A average.

      The ability to learn is perhaps the greatest ability we have. We can enhance that ability in college, while developing some degree of maturity. College grads may need some training, so do not pay them the six figure salary to start. Let them build up to it. You will create a stronger work force and help the economy at the same time.

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