Friday, May 2, 2014

May Day: The Plight Of Today's College Graduates

For educators and mentors such as myself, May is a bittersweet month. While I revel in the accomplishments of many of my students who receive their hard earned degrees, I know that for many (if not most), a rude awakening will occur.

Let's start with the recent finding by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 60% of college degrees holders have jobs that don't require them.

Students who have taken my Career Planning Class know this phenomenon as misemployment and underemployment. What a shame. All that reading. All those tests. All that tuition...just to get a job that (in most cases) can be done by a 10 or 12 year old child. Not any child; one who does what he is told and does not think for himself. Certainly not an inquisitive child who thinks "out of the box".

An unprecedented number of people are getting college degrees, but their impact on intellect and critical thinking is marginal. Overwhelmingly, people agree that as a society, we seem to be getting dumber, not smarter, despite being more "educated."

Education is not about work (though it can help you work better). Education is about learning - which can take place without enrolling into an institution of "higher learning." Education was always predicated on developing liberal thinking that would create the mindset of a better citizen, and person. So what happened?
Higher education became a BIG business.

Today, the emphasis is on degree attainment. Getting a college degree is synonymous with getting a "good job" - which has a subjective definition. Colleges attempt to scare students into enrolling by forecasting dire circumstances for their future, which I've debunked on every occasion with my presentation on "No Degree, No Problem: Profiles Of Successful People Who Don't Have College Degrees."
 Don't get me wrong - I'm not encouraging students to drop out of college, or that we pay them to do so, like the founder of PayPal has suggested.

I'm inviting students to examine the way they've been conditioned to think about education, work models, and structuring a life where they live primarily on the weekends. I'm inviting them to do soul searching and vision planning before they march across the stage and into "real world."

Like Socrates, I'm more concerned with what and how students learn to succeed in their lives as people, than in measuring their academic knowledge levels (by the way, tacit knowledge increases while academic knowledge decreases as you age), which is why it's now time for me to break free of the paradigm of university life and its system for maintaining the status quo.
Once again, this blog posting is not a case against the merits of college. My objective in writing it is to stimulate thinking about what education is, what it means, why it's important, and to draw attention to the growing number of severely underemployed and misemployed college graduates in this country.

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