Opinion: There’s more than one college plan

July 25, 2013

From postcrescent.com: “There’s more than one college plan” — By Dave Saucerman – When I started college, I was repeatedly lied to. Advisers said it was OK not to have a major, asserting that all their programs were created equal and would provide the same opportunities. There was nothing malicious about what they told me — just a friendly reassurance to an anxious freshman.

The truth is that many college degrees don’t carry the weight they used to for employers, a fact that’s too often ignored.

High school graduates continue to flock to four-year universities with the notion that it’s a formula for automatic success, a belief that the University of Wisconsin System is happy to perpetuate. However, since the revelation that UW raised tuition for years despite a huge surplus, it’s become clear that it doesn’t always have the best interest of students in mind.

It’s a growing trend that college programs are set up with the philosophy that students will need to obtain an advanced degree to have any shot at being marketable. This “come for the bachelor’s, stay for the master’s” approach to education only makes sense from the perspective of a university balance sheet. The reality is you end up with a 24-year-old with no real-world experience and crippling student loan debt.

When I finished high school and followed the masses off to college, my former classmate and Appleton resident Ryan Randerson continued working his job at Tom’s Drive-in. It was a questionable decision by traditional standards, but Ryan worked his way into management and, at 20, was able to buy his first home. He’s now enrolled in classes part-time, pursuing a business management degree at Fox Valley Technical College. His employer offers tuition reimbursement based on his academic performance, so Ryan will likely get his college education on the company’s dime.

I’m not suggesting high school grads in general are better off forgoing college for jobs in the food-service industry. College has always and will always have the intangible benefit of introducing students to new ideas, people and experiences. More than anything, college is a place for young adults to discover what it is they’re passionate about. But if your passion is to get a job that will allow you to buy a house and start a family, there are easier ways to do it than dropping $80,000 over four years.

 

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