In the last couple of years, the price value equation of going to college has been called into question. Blog post after post questions whether a college degree is worth the money—and if that degree is really just for rich people or for those who can qualify for a free ride.
Generally speaking, the argument goes as follows: If you are on a professional track, such as medicine or engineering, the value of college is obvious; you’re on a clear path to a job. If you’re not sure, or if you plan to be an English or Religion major, well then, you’re in trouble. Here’s an example of a blog post written the other day, that was viewed almost 250,000 times!
After three years of college grad unemployment, it seems fair to ask how you justify spending $250,000 on an education that may not qualify you for a job. Sure, college grads earn more money than high school grads do (although it may not be as much of a differential as it was 10 years ago). And yes, it is a basic requirement for virtually every professional position out there. And there are lots of intangible benefits, like the people you meet and that you hopefully learn the skill of critical thought. But if you can’t afford it, should you borrow the money or take another route?
In a world where competition for jobs is incredibly fierce, packaging yourself and your credentials is more important than ever before. But the packaging is nothing without self knowledge and exploration.
How do you convert a degree in religion, English or psychology into a career path? Few students graduate from college certain of what they want to do with their lives, and those who do will require different resources. Instead, for the majority who need help linking their chosen major to a field, there needs to be a roadmap driving them to identify strengths and interests, and find valuable experiences to increase self-awareness and connect school and work in a more structured fashion. This way, the student can graduate from college armed with a portfolio of skills and experience packaged for immediate uptake by employers because it represents a career path.
This roadmap needs to start freshman year in college if not sooner, and it needs to be a coordinated program addressed with as much rigor and focus as coursework. Someone with a degree in engineering or computer science has the benefit of being pre-packaged by his degree. We need to start leveling the playing field so grads with every kind of major can be work-ready and employable when May comes around.