This man says that a college degree isn’t what it used to be, and it’s time to take an honest look at college.
For decades, we have formed and subscribed to beliefs about the factors needed to be successful. Many people have and still believe that a definite route to success is through college. There are several misconceptions about college; some of them known, and others yet to be discovered. Here are the five most common misconceptions that we have about college.
1. You Can Get a Bachelor’s Degree in 4 Years
The New York Times wrote an article a few months ago discussing how more college freshmen are reporting cases of depression. This trend does not surprise me when these freshmen have to live with the possibility of getting their bachelor’s degree in six years instead of four.
Some college students are taking longer to graduate because they lose interest in their initial major and feel the need to change it.
It is better for a student to start by taking general education courses during their first two years. At that point, they may have a better idea of choosing a major for their final two years.
Another option for one to consider is taking a gap year. Usually, the best times for gap years are before college or after your sophomore year. Students typically use their gap year to dedicate to volunteering, studying abroad, or teaching English as a foreign language.
2. College Is The Ideal Networking Environment
This idea is a half truth. Small colleges are harder to make many connections, due to the size of the school. The truth is present when referring to big universities. Since the size of the school is much larger, it is much easier for someone to be more selective about their networking prospects.
Ivy League institutions are probably the best targets to make quality connections. Successful celebrities in business and entertainment often send their children to those types of schools, which presents excellent networking opportunities for those who lack recognition in their field.
As a form of general advice, introverts will do well networking as a student of a small college since they tend to value quality over quantity. Extroverts will do well networking at a big university since they tend to value quantity over quality.
Did I forget something? Yes! What about the ambiverts? Well, it goes back to my point that college being an ideal networking environment is simply a half-truth. It will differ for everybody.
3. Most Colleges Offer a Good Student-Teacher Ratio
Overcrowded classes can make it impossible for students to take the necessary courses to graduate on time (even one unavailable prerequisite can cost a student an entire year).
The University of California, California State University, and California’s community colleges had been notorious for this problem, which eventually required them to shrink enrollments. Miami-Dade College almost lost their accreditation because of their overwhelming amount of overcrowded classes. These examples are a few of the many nationwide occurrences regarding overcrowding.
If a student has to spend 20-30% more time in college to complete their degree, it is likely that they may either drop out or transfer to another school that can promise them a punctual graduation.
Some schools like Pace University, University of Buffalo, and Juniata College are enticing students with 4-year guarantees or else, the extra tuition will be free.
4. College Graduates Make Money Than College Dropouts
In specialized fields, college graduates do make more money than college dropouts. However, it is quite debatable when we look at non-specialized areas.
Let’s take the arts industry as an example. Musicians who graduated with a music degree are about as successful as musicians who did not graduate from college.
The hip-hop industry is one good example. Most hip-hop producers either never graduated or haven’t attended college at all. They usually get started by being someone’s apprentice, where they may serve as a sound engineer or arranger. They move up the ranks until they are confident to go solo or become one of the senior producers at the record label.
College can be helpful for non-specialized majors. However, it does not guarantee that one will make more money than college dropouts.
5. A College Degree is My Ticket to A Great Career
Fortunately, this idea has finally started to make more people skeptical. We have known it to be popular advice that has been given by our parents. However, when we look at the job market, it is plausible to presume that the recession has not fully recovered after all.
According to a recent report by The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 44% of recent graduates are working a job that does not require a bachelor’s degree. Also, more than half of those graduates are earning less than $45,000 a year (including 21% of them earning less than $25,000 a year).
The U.S. News & World Report found that more than half of college graduates believe that today’s college degree will see a lower return on investment.
Are you a Hanna Newburg? She was a featured example on NBC regarding the uncertainty of college degrees. She got a master’s degree in library science. Her only luck was working as a library assistant on the opposite side of the country for less than $10 an hour. She is among millions of other Americans who are realizing that a college degree offers no guarantees.
Photo: Flickr/ Roel Wijnants