Colleges Educate, Not Support

It finally happened. Two weeks ago, a mainstream reporter (i.e., Niall Ferguson from Newsweek) openly questioned the value of earning an advanced degree. In his article, “Who Needs College?”, he stops short of recommending against getting a college degree. However, he claims that the number of students who can afford college is diminishing. According to Ferguson, this trend runs the, “…risk of creating a new caste system in America.”

While there some initial concerns at a societal level that this maybe be true, many specific points he makes are incorrect. Below, I try to set these matters straight.

Overall, while the economy has certainly impacted Higher Ed, a reduction in the number of college students and graduates spells more, not less, opportunity for today’s college students on an individual level. In an economy with fewer jobs, the data support this to be true. That is unless anyone, including Ferguson, can show that jobs in the U.S. today require less education.

In fact, many leaders in business believe that America needs to create higher-paying, higher-skill jobs to drive our ongoing economic recovery. And the missing component is education that leads to a new level of skills required to move up the economic food chain.

It is true that college graduates today are experiencing higher levels of unemployment. This does not mean education itself is to blame. A closer analysis reveals the economy has put pressure on companies to hire fewer employees, and be more efficient with higher production.

This means the current system of finding an employee, or endlessly searching for a job on the web, is no longer a beneficial activity to growing companies or job seekers. The system of recruitment, job search and networking has significantly changed. This is the primary reason why college graduates can not find jobs and perhaps one of the biggest shortfalls on college campuses today.

Other arguments against earning a college degree are less relevant for military students. While tuition increases and college debt are climbing, they are not enough reasons to forgo a college degree. A simple cost-benefit analysis will show you this is true.

Sure, there are many protected professors in universities and sports facilities that have no academic value. However, there are 4,000 universities and colleges in Higher Ed and you can always identify and choose to avoid these types of schools.

The need to get a college education is greater than it has ever been. However, the responsibilities of students to be actively involved with planning, making decisions and performing self-support in the area of jobs and internships has also never been greater. It is in the area of student support and services where the value of an education is questionable and needs to be improved.

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