I am going back to Tim Elmore for my blog this month. In a previous article from his Growing Leaders blog, he wrote about the broken business model that our nation's colleges and universities continue to follow. This article follows up with a number of reasons why the post-secondary system is broken, at least from his perspective, and the impact that is having. One thing that we as parents of students who are in college, or are intending to go to college have to remember is that we are consumers. Sending a child to college is not just an educational decision. It is very much a financial or a business decisions. I encourage you to read this article and catalog it as you look forward to your child's education beyond high school.
The Real Cost of a College Education
Friday, November 7, 2014
One of the things that educators do is have conversations with students about their future and the plans they may have for a career. The fundamental purpose for high school is to prepare students for their career, in some instances more directly than others. A small percentage of students go directly into the work force right out of high school, but most recognize that they have more education to work through before they have the skills and knowledge to enter the job market. One of the realities of our time is that young people today are going to have to be prepared for more unknowns than previous generations. The vast majority is going to have multiple careers. Few will have the same job or occupation their whole work life. The job market is changing at a rapid rate and the most important qualities graduates are going to have is adaptability and the ability to learn new skills. That said, they are going to have to be critical analysts of the job market. This is a must as college costs continue to increase and the decisions that one makes in regard to their career could be worth thousands of dollars over a very short time.
In my field, education, I am astonished at the number of students who continue to graduate from college looking to be either social studies or physical education teachers. These two content areas have had a glut of candidates for years, yet colleges continue to graduate students seeking jobs in these areas. In my sixteen years as a principal I have hired at least a half dozen social studies teachers, the first one about twelve years ago. What I find incredible is that some of the same people seeking a social studies teaching job in 2002 are still looking for that job today, along with an increasing number of other candidates. A similar situation exists for PE teachers. I spoke recently to recent graduate seeking a job who had applied for twenty-five teaching positions before even getting an interview! I continue to see young people come through our school as student teachers in this field and have not heard of one that got a job upon graduation. Yet there is a tremendous shortage of candidates for teaching positions in other content areas. My fundamental question is: Why are colleges continuing to accept students into these glutted fields, and why aren’t they directing them to those in shortage areas? Colleges need money, but where is the responsibility? Education departments keep track of their graduates and have to know that social studies and physical education teaching candidates are not getting jobs. But, then again, is it the college’s responsibility?
All of us have heard that we need to follow our passion or dreams. Some of us have been told that you need to find what you love to do, and if you are lucky, you will get paid to do it. The cynic in me says that’s a pile of you know what! Of course we need to find something that we are interested in, and would like to do. That makes sense. But if the writing is on the wall and the job market does not project well, why would you choose something where the odds of success are very small? There are tremendous resources available online, and our guidance counselor has a wealth of information to help with these decisions. The sad reality is that thousands of young people are graduating from college after building up a great deal of debt and are not finding jobs in their field of study or at their level of education. There are a number of careers out there that are in high demand, many of them with high pay and benefits. Students and parents need to take a look at these, because some of the jobs we may want are simply not available. I was lucky. I was both a social studies and a PE teacher. But that was a long time ago.