I guess this was a timely subject considering a new Student Aid bill was signed into law today.
For the record, I went to a university for one year and a business college for almost five more years. In my defense, the year at university kind of put me on the right track with what I wanted to specialize in and only four of the five years at business college were considered full time. In the end, I did earn a Bachelor Degree.
I hope the changes made in today's bill make things more affordable. Cost scares far too many people away from furthering their education. I know it can't be free, but it seems like the cost of college goes up every year. It did for me when I was in school. My first year at a university ran me around $7,500 and that was after my scholarships and financial aid. My first year at business college was almost totally covered by financial aid, and the following three and a half years I barely received any.
As far as the employment value is concerned, I think higher education has taken quite a hit in the past few decades. When my parents were college aged, a degree was a guarantee that you'd earn an upper middle class salary or higher. You'd never have to worry about needing a job. Things have surely changed. A degree today doesn't guarantee you much of anything. It looks good on a resume, but experience can look equally good.
I think a degree does still show potential employers that you're willing to voluntarily commit to something that betters yourself. It shows that you've put in two to four years of determination and effort.
Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that a lack of a degree should keep people from being hired for professional work. I've worked with many talented people over the years that never set foot in a college classroom.
I do, however, find great value in a college education despite it's lack of guarantees. What I find of such great value was at first a stumbling block for me. I majored in Graphic Communications, heavy on art and creativity. When my college demanded that I take tons of seemingly unrelated classes, I initially felt that I was wasting my money. It seemed to me that they were simply padding the degree to collect extra funds. By the time I earned my Bachelor degree, I felt very different.
I now see that all of those group dynamics, psychology, and social science classes helped teach me about people's motivations, a handy set of insights to have when designing advertising. Learning the basics of micro and macro economics, statistical methods, creative writing, not to mention the myriad variety of people I had worked, learned, and studied with, it all makes me much more well rounded. My focus isn't so small that I miss bigger concepts.
Okay, in statistics class the more I understood the more my head hurt, and every writing teacher I had tried to talk me into a different career path. In hind-sight, it was all worth it, and I highly recommend it.
I also learned to love learning. I loved discussing literature with fellow students, especially when the instructor was challenging us every week. I loved picking topics for papers and learning everything I could get my hands on about that subject. I miss a lot of these things about college. I think I understand the professional student more clearly now.
I hope we can turn things around a bit. I hope a college education brings more guarantees in the future. I hope things get more affordable. I hope these things because I believe that you emerge a better person on the other end of your educational experience. I think it makes you a more open minded, eager learning, well rounded individual. Our world can surely use more people like that.