College education not what it was

As college students, we fall into the wrongly held belief that paying tuition, going to class every once in a while, and taking the tests automatically move us into the category of productive members of society.

Going to college used to mean learning a lot, working a lot and making a lot. Unfortunately none of those things are guaranteed anymore.

Going to college has changed. The number of Americans with college degrees is going up, the cash grab that having a college degree used to guarantee is gone and it’s time we start realizing that. It’s time that college students get off their high horses and realize that binge-drinking, gaming and eating aren’t the only things college is for.

A recent study published by the University of Chicago Press followed 2,322 students from 24 universities and drew some disturbing conclusions.

In these students’ first two years in college, 45% showed no improvement in critical-thinking skills and 36% of the students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning.” This is a startling trend.

The study lists lack of rigor as the main cause for the alarming conclusions and blames teachers and administrations for the decline in upper education.

But this conclusion removes responsibility from students and is overly critical of the administrations of American universities. At some point the students have to be held accountable for the diminishing returns we are seeing on the investment in a college education.

“College degrees are still important, but more and more companies are looking to evaluate the work ethic of potential employees rather than judging by a resume alone,” Roxanne Rotticci, a recruiter in Portland, OR, said.

Many would argue that although the value of the college degree has gone down, the vast majority of the work force with a college degree out-earn their less educated counterparts.

This may be true, but as the cost of going to college rises, the benefit of this increase in earnings decreases. The average student graduates with approximately $20,000 in debt. This number is increasing as wages for college graduates is decreasing.

How would you describe someone with an undergraduate degree from Yale and a MBA from Harvard? Smart? Hard-working? Emulative?

How would you describe President George W Bush? If your answers are different, they shouldn’t be, because Mr. Bush graduated with those degrees from Yale and Harvard.

There are a plethora of colorful adjectives used to describe President Bush but smart, hard-working and emulative would not be high on the list.

The era of college educated dominance is quickly coming to an end. College points you on the path to success, but it far from guarantees it.

Just going through the motions of attending school isn’t enough anymore. Paying attention and studying hard is the only way to bring the value back to a college education. A university should be an educational institution, not a young adult daycare.

“Employers went to college too so they have a pretty good idea what goes on,” Rotticci said. “That is why grades in college are more important than ever. Getting good grades shows employers that potential employees are very committed and dedicated people who most likely have the traits to be a good employee.”

College is a fantastic experience, but that isn’t all it should be. The belief that just showing up at college, coasting through four years and picking up a degree at the end makes you a productive citizen is over.

Work hard, make the most of your time here and learn something.