Does A College Degree Count Towards Employment?

January 25th, 2011

Guest Blogger: April Davis

It seems like an asinine question at first glance; everyone knows that the first step to gainful and lucrative employment is a college degree, unless of course, you’re extremely talented and eccentric enough to start your own business, like the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. But then, such enterprising entrepreneurs are one in a million, and those that taste stupendous success even rarer than that, so let’s say it’s wiser to go to college first before wanting to strike it rich in the real world.

However, a book that’s just out, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, written by Richard Arum, professor of sociology and education at the New York University, and Josipa Roska, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, says that students show minimal academic gains during their time in college. They reached this conclusion after analyzing the results of around 3,000 students from 29 colleges who took the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a test that measures gain in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and other high level skills that are supposed to be acquired during college. The researchers found that 45 percent of students did not show any significant improvement in learning during the first two years of college, and that 36 percent did not show any improvement over four years.

These dismal results are blamed on both the students and the professors – the former are more inclined to social activities than academic pursuit in college, while the latter are more focused on research options than in teaching students. While this analysis cannot be taken as an blanket statement that all college students fail to improve over the course of their degree, it does show that priorities are changing and that academics does not really command the attention that it deserves.

So we come back to the question at hand – is a college degree really the best way to rate potential employees and induct them into the professional world? If college does not teach them critical skills and provide them with analytical reasoning capabilities, then how do employers recruit people suited to their organization? Is this the reason why many people are unable to find work and why the US has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world?

Perhaps we could blame the unemployment on the recent recession that we’re just coming out of; but then, shouldn’t this sorry state of affairs also serve to remind students that unless they pull up their socks and burn the midnight oil, they’re going to be adrift in a sea of debt and joblessness when they graduate? While the entire student fraternity cannot be judged on the merits or demerits of a mere 3,000, this book should become a wakeup call to all collegians and force them to rethink their priorities – they either put their college tuition to work and keep their noses to the grindstone or they just forget about college altogether.


This guest post is contributed by April Davis, she writes on the topic of Accredited Degree Online . She welcomes your questions and comments at her email id: april.davis83(@)gmail(.)com.


2 Responses

  1. Zach says:

    I have read a bit of the book’s findings and both you and it bring up very valid points. While there are distractions on both sides of the podium, I believe the institutions deserve a large percentage of the blame as well.

    Universities, both public and private have evolved into giant cash generating entities that want to get you through the process and don’t care much if you learn or not. For example, I had to get “special permission” from the dean of my college to take a history class that did not fill a requirement.

    When asked why I wanted to take the class, I responded, “Because I find history interesting and wanted to learn about the topics this course is about,” and was greeted with suspicion and dumb founded looks. The thought that a student would learn just for the sake of knowledge with no collegiate benefit was completely foreign to them.

  2. Ryan says:

    I believe in a college education, but this article implies that you have to be an intellectual genius to open a business. I disagree, and believe that many hard working individuals can obtain serious success opening their own business without a college degree. You do not have to be of Bill Gates stature to open a thriving business.

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