Monday, July 25, 2011

B.A. : It stands for...

In about three weeks I will walk across a stage, not trip in front of my entire class and their families, humbly accept my diploma, and officially graduate.

Great. Wonderful.  That’s just bloody phenomenal. 

It actually IS bloody phenomenal, but I don’t really want to talk about graduation.  (And I bet you don’t either. Especially if you’re also a senior.)  I want to talk about the value of my education. 

What does my BA really stand for?  I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t rhyme with Rad Grass.

Haha, I bet I just made you think a naughty word.

Seriously though.  A B.A. is supposed to stand for Bachelor of Arts (though since I’m a woman, maybe I should have a Bachelorette of Arts? …Nevermind, not important). It shows that I spent four or more years attending to my education, “expanding my cranium and popping some neurons,” in the words of Mrs. Doubtfire.

I feel a little gypped, though.  In the Good Ole Days (notice the respect I accord them with my capitalization), a high school diploma was an advanced education.  It ensured men that they could run a store or a farm, and be financially responsible for both their business and their family.  It ensured women that they could…be teachers. Or get married.  (Ok, let’s change some things about the Good Ole Days.)

Not only was high school as far as you could go up the education ladder, it was free.  Major plus right there. 

Today, a Bachelor of Arts (or even of Science) is not free.  In fact, my college is about  120,000 times the opposite of free.  Furthermore, I’m not convinced that my modern-day college education is worth the price – the job market is telling me that my BA, my four years of intensive study, is not enough anymore.

Somehow, college is beginning to feel a bit like high school.  Like something everyone does because they are supposed to and because it’s the minimum requirement for the job market.

I ran across some statistics.  Let me share them with you.

  • 84% say that it is extremely (37%) or very (47%) important to have a college degree in order to get ahead.

  • 87% strongly (68%) or somewhat (19%) agree that a college education has become as important as a high school diploma used to be.

  • 78% strongly agree (38%) or agree (40%) that college is not doing its job if its graduates are not prepared to enter the job market.

  • 96% say that career training is a very (72%) or somewhat (24%) important goal for colleges and universities.

  • When asked in another way about the relative importance of a well-rounded education versus job training, the public is divided. Half (51%) of the public say that if they had a child in college, it would be more important for their child to get a well-rounded education; 40% think that training for a well-paying job would be more important.

Statistics compiled by from surveys done by a variety of sponsors, including Time, CNN, and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

So, according to these statistics a college education is vitally important but it might not be doing its job in preparing me for a job, and 40% of America thinks my time would have been better spent training for a specific job rather than making myself well-rounded.

Well.  Isn't that encouraging.

Can I get my money back?

Before the class of 2011 jumps en masse off the nearest cliff, let's think critically for a bit. (Since that is, after all, what we're trained to do.)  In this reluctant economy, the odds of us being able to survive long-term at ONE particular job and vocation are very slim.  Most of us will bounce around a bit, and will probably switch careers a couple times -- and that is why we WANT to be well-rounded.  It gives us the ability to be adaptable.  Which is attractive to employers.  I know I'm gonna talk up my adaptability during job interviews.  I'm pretty much a chameleon. 

The other reason we should be glad we went to college: other people think it's important. By "other people", I mean parents and employers.  And your friends.  And your average Joe.  And your average Jane (since I am gender-inclusive).  The only ones who don't agree are those who didn't go to college, and yet found success anyway. Buggers.

The most important reason we should be glad we went to college: Uh, it's fun. Duh.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey guys! I'd love to have your feedback, so if you liked it, loved it, hated it, I want to know. Actually, if you hated it then don't bother. If you have to publish your comment as "Anonymous", please just type your name at the end of your message. Cheers!