Government, UNC

Do Students Want a Degree or a Career?

“You shouldn’t measure success by how many students are coming in and even graduating. We should measure success by how many students are getting jobs. Especially, jobs that they study for.”

Said Governor McCrory, Tuesday night at Methodist University’s Spring Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit to a group that included Fayetteville State University Chancellor Anderson and the President of Methodist University.

The Fayetteville Observer has the full story.

Governor McCrory at Methodist University Spring Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit

Governor McCrory at Methodist University Spring Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit

I believe that people go to school to learn skills that will enable them to be successful in their careers.  They’re also choosing to invest a significant amount of money for that education.  The schools need to deliver a solid Return on Investment to the students (and anyone else that’s helping to pay for that education).

A rewarding career in a chosen field is a primary metric.


5 thoughts on “Do Students Want a Degree or a Career?

  1. Yes and no. Hardly anyone spends a full career in one job or even one field anymore, and an undergraduate education needs to speak to that reality. For the past 10 years, and off and on before that, I’ve held jobs that either looked very different when I graduated in 1982 or, more often, didn’t even exist. I adapted not because of my English major but because the whole curriculum I studied gave me analytical skills, problem-solving bents and talents, and communications skills that have been valuable in every job I’ve held — and the flexibility and adaptability to roll with the changing needs of employers.

    Also, good writing and good people management are still a lot harder to find than you’d think, and more important in both business and nonprofits than ever.

    Yes, a college education should provide an excellent return on investment. But to expect a significant part of that return early in one’s career is ludicrous. You’re making that investment for a 45-year horizon, give or take. And even since the Great Recession, and the intentional suppression of economic growth that has followed it, that investment is still providing, over that period, an average annual return of about 15%, far better than the stock market, bonds, Treasuries, oil, even gold.

  2. Agreed – the rewarding career is a long term metric. However, given the cost of an education, the wages earned should allow that debt to be repaid or a reasonable return over a reasonable time. From a purely financial standpoint, you could run a discounted cash flow analysis. Some people forget to count the opportunity cost and experience level.

    Among various education options, which paths yield the highest returns?

  3. Roch says:

    A good education delivers more than an employable skill set. Learning how to think logically, being able to put one’s experiences in context (historically, cosmologically, biologically, etc), learning how to understand people, grasp, evaluate and incorporate concepts, how to postulate, test and articulate one’s own ideas, how to question, explore and create—these are the kinds of things that equip people to be complete humans and not just the cogs in the wheel the “teach for the job” mentality produces.

    • I agree. But where do you learn those skills. Elementary School, High School, Community College, University, Graduate School? And do you need to attend a certain caliber school? Do you need to continue your education throughout your life or is it a one shot deal?

      If you are given a finite amount of resources, do you allocate all of them to one individual or do you try and impact ten people?

  4. That 15%-per-year figure did in fact include the opportunity cost of not working during one’s college years, just fyi.

    The best short-term ROI is community college, but that’s because the costs relative to traditional college are so low, not because the increase in lifetime earnings is so much greater. (It makes for a smaller denominator for calculating ROI, in other words.)

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