Tis the season where hundreds of thousands of students all over America are gearing up to head back to the bastions of enlightenment.  So this week, I’m going to spend all week highlighting the Good, The Bad, and The Ugly about life on today’s University Campus.

With a culture that continually highlights the need for a University education, I think it’s time to probe what the value of University really entails?  Is it still something students need to achieve before they enter the marketplace?  And, what are the highlights of being successful if you’re going to the University this year.

I hope we can develop an ongoing conversation about your thoughts, your needs as employers looking for employees, and for students who are trying to figure out what they want to do in life.  Feel free to message, comment, or just ask questions this week, and we’ll make this an open conversation for all The JOURNEY Readers.

So, as to not continue writing introduction for the week…here we go.

Why We Go to University?

I interview parents and high school students all year long.  About the Junior year in High School, I help counsel families looking for the “perfect” University setting.  And as it turns out, this search can set you back into a 40 hour a week job.  Filling out applications, looking for financial aid, trying to figure out what they want to do for a living…it takes a lot work, a lot of research, and ultimately it culminates into campus visits and University tours.

Every family I talk to has similar needs for University.  a.)  It’s a training ground for a new job.  b.)  It’s the natural life transition from home to living on your own.  c.)  It’s a bed of networking to help engage in society at the end.  d.)  It’s just what we do.

Looking at the Numbers

One of the most trusted, comprehensive, polling organization is the Pew Research Center.  I pulled up an article, written about a year ago examining Five Facts About Today’s College Students.

Did you know only 56% of University students actually graduate?
Did you know the majority of students are taking classes in Business?
Did you know the job market continues to grind closer and closer for those who went to college versus those who don’t?

But with all that….

Graduates continue to out earn their non-university counterparts, and most of them feel as though it was a valuable time in life.

It’s time to start asking questions:

We need to take a serious look at our University programs today, and ask the hard questions.  Why are we pumping so much money into an institution that doesn’t seem to be giving us the return we think it is?  How necessary is the University for long term personal growth?  And maybe more interesting, what does a University program look like for the future?  (After all, much of how we do higher education today hasn’t changed that much in over a century)

I’m not proposing the answers to these questions are easy.  And I don’t want to impose a negative view of the University.  What I DO WANT to do is start the conversation about what University looks like for tomorrow.  If it needs to keep being the same, then it will be the same.  But let’s not forgo the possible for simply saying things like “Well, we’ve always done it that way.”

I’ll start working with your questions, and let’s see where this conversation goes.  If I don’t hear from you, next time, I’ll write about the debt load, and we’ll see if it’s financially viable to continue doing what we’re doing.


  1. I agree this conversation has to happen. My husband runs his own business and people should be able to give a lot of feedback. The thought that stands out the most after years of employees coming and going is work ethic!!! The best employees have a good work ethic. This covers so many areas. Attitude of being asked to work in areas not their specialty, doing things right and no short cuts, treating your customers well when you are not in the room, not bringing your baggage to work, not stealing and calling in sick when your are not sick, efficient use of time, etc. this is number one in any profession and employers also should not take advantage of these people as well. They should be rewarded. We do need to know what skills are needed for the future as well. Kids need to be able to get jobs when they come out. Universities should have a good grasp of what the future holds for graduates.

  2. My daughter, an English Major who is also getting Teacher Certification asked this question, So when I get done with all these classes, am I going to know how to do my job?” The answer is a resounding “no”. While I believe the universities do educate, they spend 1-2 years repeating high school course work instead of training classes that would actually apply to the major. Job training happens once graduation occurs. I am also an education major. During college I prepared and taught one lesson in 4 years. There has got to be a better way.

  3. I transitioned to the real world in college. That transitions helped hone some life skills. How to manage a budget. How to compete against talent from different cultures and different upbringings. I learned how to manage the consequences of my decisions; sleeping in, skipping class, pulling an all nighter to meet a deadline. How to take ownership of my work product. Others may have learned similar skills in the work force or perhaps earlier in Hogh School. I leaned how to compete in the work force in graduate school. College taught me who I was.

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