What is our goal here?

By The Columbia Chronicle

In 1985, a national survey was taken by thousands of college students at campuses across the country. The survey was one multiple choice question, with a two option answer; The reason for attending college: A) To get a job after graduation. Or B) To better their education. When the results came back it was found that 80 percent of college students were attending to better their education and 20 percent were attending to get a job.

In 1996, that same survey was conducted on the same number of students at the same number of schools. The results were far different from those in ‘85. Seventy-five percent of students were attending college to get a job after school and 25 percent were attending to better their education.

This brings up the question of why there was almost a complete turn-around in the survey between 1985 & 1996.

I have come to several conclusions, but I’d like to talk about one in particular. Starting with the notion that in 1985 it was still fairly simple to get a job or a good career without having a college degree. Today it seems virtually impossible. So what’s the cause of this great need for a college degree?

When a new student enters college they cannot jump right into their major. For the most part, the first two years of college are spent working on General Education classes. This is the time when students must sit through all the painstakingly, boring classes, in several different disciplines. This is done for two reasons. For one thing, it gives the students an opportunity to explore several areas of study and pick one to maybe major in. The other reason for Gen. Ed. classes are to give the student a “well rounded” education. This is so that after graduation those many years of study will pay off in the knowledge that we live in a society where everyone knows a little bit about something. There’s only one problem with this.

When the average person is put into a class that they don’t want to be in, they’re not going to learn the material as well if they learned it when or how they wanted to learn it. The justification to this is that the student has many options and classes to chose from. No matter what the student picks, they usually end up strongly disliking the class. It is a proven fact that when someone wants to learn something they will and if they don’t want to, they won’t.

For instance, how many students you think remember the majority of the material covered in a class they had last semester that they had no interest in being in, but had to take it because it was required? Doesn’t seem like this “well-rounded” education thing works out too well.

This I know can be justified by saying that in a career you’ll have to do things you don’t want to do. Some would say that’s one of the main things a degree is really for, enduring arbitrary & meaningless tasks. But what does a degree really say and do for someone out there in the “real world?”

Consider this: When you finally attain the degree you so desperately worked for, for so many years (not counting graduate school, if attended), you go and land yourself a job. The first thing the company does is spend about five to ten thousand dollars on shipping you off to several seminars and classes for about two weeks, training you on your new job. So after you get back from the training you realize that you or your parents spent $200,000 on an education that took you about four or five years to complete, only so you could be trained all over again in two weeks. Not to mention that what makes someone good at what they do in their career is not the education that you had before the career, but the experience gained with years of working in the field of your career.

If you were a president of a company and an important decision had to be made, who would you trust, the employee who has been working for you for 15 years or the just graduated college kid who’s been on the job for two weeks? Now ask the employee of 15 years what he/she remembers of their psychology class they took their second semester of sophomore year.

I hope that I have not discouraged or offended anyone, or put the idea in your head that college is a complete waste of time. I’m merely trying to point out the fact that a degree is not all it’s cracked up to be. Remember there’s more to learn at college than a degree. I’m not in any position to say exactly what, because my reasons for attending are different than yours. Everyone has their own reason. School is a perfect way to ruin an education, so try and not let the stress reduce an education into just school work.