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Students miss point of university degree

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Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 9:22 pm

A recent study in the Wall Street Journal revealed a high percentage of college graduates felt their college degree was unsuccessful in “training” them for their chosen career. The theme of the article was one of pessimism toward those who are in college. It seemed to be saying that degrees are becoming undesirable in the job market because of the lack of industry-specific training.

The article’s tone did not sit well with me. I may be in the minority, but I have never entertained the idea that my college degree would be nothing more than a job-training seminar.

Furthermore, those who would entertain that idea may be missing the entire purpose of a four-year university degree.

If you watch late-night television enough, you are bound to see a commercial for any of the thousands of for-profit “colleges” that are in the business of getting your degree in “no time.”

A common selling point to prospective customers goes something like this:

“Our university can get you the tools you need to find a job you want quickly. Online classes are available to fit your busy schedule.”

These are not pitches made by accredited Universities; they are selling points to masses of people who, for whatever reason, missed the opportunity to go to college before getting stuck in an abysmal job market.

The draw of these businesses, and they are businesses, is the possibility of a better life with minimal stress on a busy family and professional life. However, there are many things that the institutions fail to specify when hopeful students pull out their checkbooks.

A lack of accreditation is a plague upon many of these institutions. Students are not told that their degree will be coming from an unrecognized institution with no ties to higher education. It is important to note that my critique does not include technical or vocational schools.

Prospective students are often oblivious to the fact that there is a substantial difference between the accelerated course work of technical school and that of a university degree. A university does provide a service. That service should be clear to every faculty member and student.

Attendance at a university provides a community, be it local, national, or international, with well-rounded, intelligent, well-spoken and rational citizens. Much of the growth I have experienced as a rational animal in my first three years at university will be invaluable as I crash into the “real world.”

I acknowledge that some are unable or unwilling, due to personal circumstances, to attend an institute of higher learning. Still, I plead for my college experience not be dissected by big businesses that stand without the merit to train their own new employees.

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