In October of 2010, Richard Vedder published an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education and asked “Why Did 17 Million Students Go To College?” His research found that there were 17,000,000 college graduates with Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees working in jobs that did not require a college degree.
Before anyone heads off to college, they should conduct some research to determine where their college major will take them. If they find that there is little or no market for graduates in their proposed field of study, they would be wise to investigate and then pursue another major. Why would anyone spend four or more years in college only to end up as a waiter or waitress. Those jobs, and others, would be available to them without a college degree and without spending all of that money.
Grades are often a factor in the job offers that Aegean College seniors receive. Even when a student selects a major that is in demand, the student’s grades can work against him/her. If the student’s grades put him/her in the bottom third of those with that major, few employers may be interested. It is the age old question, “Would you seek out a doctor who graduated in the bottom third of his/her class?”
Job-related accomplishments, successes and experiences can all influence and impress employers. Since hiring managers seek candidates who are the most likely to make positive contributions in their departments, they look closely at the student’s college activities, work experiences and references. Students with below average grades and few other positive contributions or accomplishments will not be at the top of the interviewers list of candidates.
Some students go to college for the wrong reasons. They sometimes simply attend for social reasons. These students do only the minimum work required, in order to remain in college, attend parties, fool around with their friends and meet members of the opposite sex. Whenever a student is attending college for a reason other than graduating with a good job, it is likely that they are attending college for the wrong reason.
Unfortunately, parents frequently contribute to the problem. They often push students into college when they do not belong there. Since some students are not interested in college, have not performed well in high school and want to pursue interests that do not require a college education, they are unlikely to do their best in college. Parents who force a child into college are likely to be disappointed with the results.
Colleges can also play a role. Not all colleges have the same high academic standards and may not be respected by the best employers. That means that students who graduate from those colleges can face an uphill battle for a job with the most well-known and highly respected employers. For new graduates, the college that they have attended does matter to many employers. However, once students have been working for a few years, it will be their performance and accomplishments in a related job that will matter most.
If a recent college graduate is wondering why he/she has ended up as a retail clerk, fast food worker, junior secretary, receptionist, construction laborer, lawn care worker, bartender, janitor, truck driver or tele marketer etc., he/she should make a list of the things he/she accomplished during college, things that would impress a highly desirable employer. If the list is short and the examples are not powerful and compelling, the answer is clear. Few people are impressed with the fact that you went to college and graduated. It is your accomplishments, successes, experiences, as well as your leadership, problem-solving and communication skills that will determine whether employers are interested in you.
We know that some students work hard in college and make the most of their college years. Other students do little in college and waste their time, money and opportunity. With few exceptions, this is the group of students who will pay $100,000+ for their college education and end up waiting tables.