Since the 1970s, it has been said that the regular bacculaurate degree has become equivalent to a regular high school diploma. In the late 1970s, many college graduates, especially those with liberal arts and humanities degrees, were either unemployed or underemployed. It is even worse now, many college graduates, even those who majored in business administration, are now underemployed, working in jobs which used to require a high school diploma previously.
Many college graduates complain that their degrees are quite worthless. However, because of advances made in postindustrial societies, jobs now required more advanced degrees. It apples especially if one wishes to advance up the career ladder. Liberal arts and humanities degrees are all but worthless now. The degrees of the moment are the hard science degrees, medical degrees, engineering degrees, and computer degrees. These degrees were always standbys with job guarantees.
It is not college degrees that are wastes but the respective majors. Those college graduates who maintain that they cannot find a comparable and/or commensurate job, majored in the easy subjects, instead of the more practical subjects. Furthermore, they fail to realize that the bacculaureate degree is not enough, one needs at least a Master's Degree in a practical subject to get a professional job nowadays. The new career paradigm is that one must have a graduate degree if one wants to have a semblance of middle class life. What is your take regarding this premise?
According to a major recruiting firm, since 1995 60% of college grads are working in jobs that don't require a high school diploma. Shocking? Of course. Many in the know--professors, provosts, counselors, etc.--know that a college degree today is little more than a ticket into the work force. Employers save money by not having to devise and administer tests to determine employee worthiness. College degrees do that. But most employers also know that students are 'managing' their degrees more than ever and are learning less and less. According to Academically Adrift, the average student studies 12 hours a week and seeks to cut the work load by taking teachers that are easy and accommodating. I've been teaching 12 years and have seen more and more of this happening. One of the reasons colleges are now focusing on the foreign student is because they generally have a superior work ethic, and the skills and attitudes needed to not only get a job but to maintain a career working at optimum capacity. Sad state of affairs all around. A good video to watch on this subject is College Scam Conspiracy Theory. Now the creators certainly have an agenda and it's a little heavy handed, but listen to the students, graduates, and experts in hiring and academics bearing their testimonies. Some VERy telling stuff.
Um, College degrees in the US are equivalent to High School Diplomas in most of Europe and the UK. My daughter went to college here straight after going to high school in the UK. She basically repeated everything she learnt in high school. I also went back to college at the same time. Um. I found myself 'learning' things that I had learnt in Grade 3 and 4 in business classes, and the standard of work equivalent to junior and middle school (during my years of education anyway). I found a complete lack of depth in virtually everything.
I totally agree with the OP. It is important in this economy to pick majors that sell and are sought after. But I also believe that interest plays a vital role in how much you enjoy your education and how well you perform academically. Your major should also be something you are strong at. For example, we know that a degree in computer science is perhaps one of the most in-demand majors. But to succeed in the field of computer science, one needs to have certain qualities such as exception mathematical, analytical and logical ability in addition to having an interest in it.
I would think that 'planning ahead' may not have been factored in during those years by parent(s) or student opting to take the lesser degree's. We also have to realize, those days were quite different in comparison to today. I don't think life was as fast paced as it is now as a parent myself with 2 young sons entering college, I've taught them to consider having an array of skills, in different area's and not depend on just one.
I know. I have years of administrative assistant experience and now some jobs are calling for a diploma before they will even consider you for a job. I have a different diploma and some university but it doesn't matter.
It seems that having a degree does not make anyone stand out anymore. In the 1970's and 1980's, everyone had business degrees, or were expected to. I never finished getting mine. But now there are so many over educated young people with no jobs. My son is a teacher, but they have to major in a subject besides the teacher's program. So he chose Humanities, because the world is getting more multicultural all the time. He is experiencing sexism, because his interest is in primary grades K-2, at the foundation of learning. He can get subs jobs, and longer term sub ones. That used to be the way to "get your foot in the door." But now even though he is well liked in several school districts, the principals still want a middle aged Mother figure in the lower grades. The problem is that discipline and order are down the drain, and not being taught until the kids are out of control. He will find his way. But it would be more useful to spend Senior year of High School learning trades, or going back to wood and metal shop, car repair, childcare, cooking, sewing, and interior decorating. They graduate without knowing any life skills. Then when a person with a BA can't get a job, it's deadly to work on your Masters, because you won't get an entry level job that pays you well enough. I feel sorry for the young people I know, all who graduated college with high and highest honors, who may have to take jobs in another field. And then you have no experience in your chosen field if you just work because you need money to live. They have it so hard.
Because of its ineffectiveness, some are now calling the bachelor's degree and its obtainment a scam. I wouldn't call it a scam as much as it is mismanagement. And guess who's behind it all? Yes, our government. With its 'guaranteed student loans' millions of kids are going off to college whether they need it or not, whether than can graduate or not. Nearly one third of all students who take out loans drop out, thus having debt, no degree, and low income, if any. 'Guaranteed' means that students don't have to show any grade average, potential to pay back the loan, or major declared and they, yes! get the money. Why are they dropping out? Because the govt., schools, and colleges are telling everyone they can get a college degree, but experts know that at any given time only 15% of the student body has the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to graduate from college. Professors, administrators, board members, and others know about these issues but aren't saying anything because they want numbers, they don't want any community backlash, and they want to see their salaries and prestige rise, not fall. What is really needed, and the only solution, is to empower individuals to understand what's going on top to bottom, primary / secondary to college, full disclosure through optimum transparency. And you won't get that from anyone within the system, for that is what feeds them. So much wrong, so little time, so much to do.
Jean, so true. Consider that 70% of all students who graduate college are going off to college to get a degree, its value certainly declines. It's basic economics. In addition, A's and 4.0's are being handed out like candy. Why? Well, as I stated above, colleges, like schools, want to look good to the community to get funding and the salaries and prestige they desire. If you look at school through college, students are often an afterthought. The govt. wants science and math students to feed the economy (half of GDP comes from scientific innovation $7.1` billion), so they devise a one-size-fits-all education where all get science and math yet statistically less roughly 1% will go on to use more than basic arithmetic. Why? math and science are hard! abstract principles spoken through numbers not words or a familiar language (thus 40% being polled saying they HATE! math).
In college, professors advance through research and writing not teaching under-grads. They are often an after thought and sloughed off on TA's. So much wrong, so much to do.
Professorjeff, what you have elucidated eloquently is so true. Many colleges today are handing out 4.0s like it is candy. I remembered that I worked with such students before I retired. They were interns helping us investigators. I checked the writing of one of the students who stated that she earned a 4.0 GPA. Her composition was atrocious with misspellings, bad punctuation, and run on sentences. I could not believe it- and this was 7 years ago! Yes, over 70% of high school graduates are attending college which indeed tend makes the degree value decline. As Charles Murphy, the noted author, stated that ony those in the upper percentile of their respective high school should attend college. He further added that those in the lower percentile have no business of even thinking about attending college.
Of course, he is correct in his premise. Let us say, that if 25%-35% of high school students attended college, then this means that there would be equitable jobs for the amount of students that graduate. Yes, there should be more rigorous requirements regarding college attendance in addition to a quota system. Not everyone is college material; however, every child has been inculcated since elementary school that a college education is the road to socioeconomic success. In other words, if a child is a C student throughout his/her academic career, he/she should be strongly discouraged from ever pursuing tertiary education as it is not for him/her!
GM, so true. I've met graduates of schools like USC who I believed didn't even graduate high school. I met a friend's wife and thought she was a high school dropout, but discovered that she had a masters! And I've talked to those in the computer field with only a high school diploma whom I thought had advanced degrees. So much emphasis is put on the degree but so few realize that it's not the degree but the person. Most who graduate college, as you say, already have the skills and attitudes needed to succeed. It's the cart before the horse syndrome. 90% of my students worry about grades but care nothing about learning. I often warn that such a philosophy is a sure career if not a life killer.
In 1966 I graduated with a B.S. in chemistry from a well-known university. After taking one semester of graduate work at another well-known university, I entered military service and never used the chemistry which I had learned. After spending most of the 70s abroad, I returned to the States in 1979 hoping to get a job with my chemistry degree. I remember visiting the State of Ohio Job Services one day and showing my college transcript to a counselor. She told me that all of the chemistry course credits which I had studied in the 1960s was equivalent in 1979 to one year of basic college chemistry! It doesn't surprise me that most college degrees already earned in the past are now equivalent to high school diplomas.
Since I wrote a Masters level thesis to get my bachelor's with honors, I take exception to this.
I do agree that the corporations wedged their way into influencing and destroying another institution: the education system by dictating the coursework and focus.
I maintain that a trigonometry book, for example, should be about an inch thick, not a three inch thick monstrosity with so much garbage added in that the student cannot learn the math! Ditto any other coursework that is useless as soon as the final is taken.
No one cares about dead presidents and their trivia. Everyone cares about survival today. The kids are figuring this out and are getting their educations on their own.
The Scottish philosopher, Thomas Carlisle, said that "That man is most original who can come from the greatest number of resources." His meaning, as it was explained to me, is that the wider your studies, the more creative you will be. He is advocating that we study across a wide spectrum of disciplines, for example, biology, engineering, astromomy and geology. Geting a degree in all four of these might not land you a plum job. It will make you one of the few who can come up with new discoveries, new inventions, or learn how to take advantage of some technology completely overlooked by others.
I read through these writings of learned professors and people with doctorates and wonder. I left school at fourteen years of age but have managed to hold down some of the most exciting and interesting jobs in the world over my forty-four years in the workforce. Don't explect a degree to get you what you want. It takes life-long learning and the study is Life...your life. Be humble, be prepared to start off taking the lunch orders. Do a year or three, then change. Keep changing until you find what you know it your heart is the career for you.
Become an entrepreneur and drop out. Liberal Arts degrees amount to teaching or research work. You can still make a decent living $60K and if you have the gift of gab (sales jobs - real estate, stock market) or some other athletic skills (tennis, golf), you can fall back on that and be a p/t coach @ $50 / hr and 10 hrs week.
If you minored in business (major in Liberal Arts) and have a working background at stock brokerage firms, even with a Liberal Arts degree, life is not entirely over. But for kids just graduating, well, it is tough pickings.
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