Comments about ‘In our opinion: Finding clearer pathways to degrees that land jobs’

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Published: Saturday, Feb. 9 2013 1:55 p.m. MST

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Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Irony of the Day: This editorial contemplates turning our schools into vocational trainers with "clear career paths," e.g., coursework that clearly leads to becoming a mortician, a rock singer, a deli owner, etc. At the same time, "it is implausible to think of maintaining competitiveness in our global economy without critical thinking, analytic reasoning and communication skills." Come on, DN, you can't have it both ways. Without History, English, and Mathematics, you won't get those skills.

North Ogden, UT

Secondary education certainly polishes and refines people but Secondary education is a business and like any other business they’re there to make money. Why else take a room filled with expensive tech equipment and 25 students that requires hands on training and a lot of one on one time when you can fill that same room with 150 students and lecture them instead about blah-blah 101 – it’s much cheaper. And why not name a building after donor so and so, they’re the universities millionaire role model. Is it any wonder tech schools and colleges want university status? And is it any wonder students would rather seek the easy life style jobs rather than those that require physical labor.

Worst of all are student loans; since their inception the cost of secondary education has sky rocketed. The influx of money Universities have received from them funds new buildings, higher salaries, and more programs – all on the back of the poor college student who can’t find a job after he graduates.

American Fork, UT

Degrees that lead to jobs...they're called trades.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

University: universitas magistrorum et scholarium.

Is getting a job the goal of universal education, or is helping the student to see all things in their proper perspective the goal?

Much of the nonsense blathered about is the result of not seeing the relationship between all parts of society and all parts of industry. Too many people see everyone who does not believe exactly as they do as the enemy. That is the result of having a very narrow perspective on life. Unfortunately, that is exactly what would happen more frequently if universities were turned into trade schools that focused on teaching a student a "high-tech trade".

Back in the late 1970's when I began to study computer programming, the universities used "pseudo computers" to teach concepts. The universities knew that computers would change and that teaching COBOL would not help students in ten years. They were right. Those of us who understand the concepts are better prepared for change than those who learned a computer language only.

Comprehensive understanding is necessary. Students need to know more than one subject.

Santa Ana, CA

Tell it to the Board of Trustees at BYU. When my daughter went there,there were only 36 spots in the nursing program for a class of 5000 incoming students. I think it has doubled now (still not enough), but every year a thousand students graduate with a default English degree (which is worthless on the job market). The caliber of students attending BYU deserves enhanced offerings in such professions.

the old switcharoo
mesa, AZ

There's some good points there. But specific education always lags behind development of new industries. There was computer engineering long before there were degrees for it.

A more focused program may actually discourage all those college drop outs from dropping out and revolutionizing the economy in their basements and garages like they have done so many times.

Murray, Utah

Critical thinking: How does going 20 years into debt and coming out with a sociology degree demonstrate critical thinking? Lack of judgment more likely. And if they stick their parents for the bill or bail on their incurred financial obligations, then lack of integrity for sure.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

The only reason for ssi was so the youth would have a chance. When the government took the money from ssi they took the jobs from the youth because they keep rising the age to retirement.

Bountiful, UT

My son's friend got a certificate degree at one of the for profit colleges, this cost him $40,000 and he has $40,000 student loans. The degree in computer and business. He is unable to get employment with this. We think the reason being is that he doesn't know enough about either (computer or business)because the degree was split to be a real contribution to any company. Or perhaps its just because it hard to find a job right now.

I see two approaches to getting a post secondary degree. Focus on getting an education which will require thinking and reasoning. Let the job take care of itself. Such degrees could include history, mathematics, engineering, economics, (not education which is fluff).

Or focus on getting a job. Such degrees could include, engineering, education or better yet math education, accounting, nursing, computer / networking.

Sensible Scientist
Rexburg, ID

One problem I see commonly is an emphasis on "doing what you love." That's fine as long as there is such a demand for what you love that someone is willing to pay you enough to support you and your family. The trick is to separate what's a good career from what's a good hobby.

Job demand for scientists and engineers is high and growing.

Salt Lake City, UT

Understand that the outcome of a particular academic major for an individual is a largely unpredictable outcome based on the market for that major overall and the INDIVIDUAL qualities of that individual. So there is no ruler. That said, every individual leaving high school should do so with an immediately marketable trade.

Columbus, OH

While editorials like this continue to denigrate an education-based, rather than a job-training-based college degree, the market continues to value a BA from an accredited institution. Why?

Few students go to college hoping to get a technical career where they simply check the boxes. They want jobs that challenge them and allow them to problem solve. You don't succeed in business by being the same. You succeed by thinking outside the box. Scientific discoveries don't happen because people keep repeating the same studies.

The general education curriculum is meant to give students a broader understanding of the world and forces them to think in different ways to grasp the diverse curriculum. A business student might not realize it at the time, but that art history course may be teaching them to be more visually adept, a skill they may translate into their marketing or products.

College isn't just to give you skills, it's to teach you to think and problem solve, complementing basic technical understanding. Businesses have seen university-educated students be more successful for these reasons. As Hinkley always preached, no education is wasted.

USS Enterprise, UT

If they want to make clearer pathways to majors that are in demand, how about this simple approach. Cut off the pathways that lead nowhere, or at least make the path a lot more narrow.

While some people may get jobs after obtaining a degree in Art History, most do not. If you cut the funding to those majors and send more funding to the majors that are in demand and make those pathways wider, wouldn't that benefit all?

You turn the majors that are in low demand into exclusive programs where those with degrees can earn more, and you supply the workforce with the workers that are trained in what they are looking for.

South Jordan, UT

Being a recent college undergraduate, I spent about a month looking for jobs. With-in this job search, I found many jobs that I was interested in but with the level of the job some even being entry-level I was required to have 3-5 years experience in that field for an entry level position. This did not make sense, in my mind that degree is what gives me an edge that proves to employers that I have the capability to learn, work hard, and to be trained in the specific things they need or want me to do. Companies need to lower their expectations for positions, even if it is slightly. If you are going to hire an executive assistant that is an entry level position and pay 10 to 12 an hour, then do not expect them to have 3 years of executive assistant experience. We have skills, and we are capable of learning more. A degree is what prepares you and teaches you to continue to learn and grow, even if it means learning new skills to get a job.

Salt Lake City, UT

Re: Redshirt "Cut off the pathways that lead nowhere, ..." For a given individual this is not known. I have found the career path full of experimentation, and have taken me into areas which NONE could have anticipated. A good basic ednucation of english and mathematics is always useful.

Bountiful, UT

The purpose of a college education is NOT to provide the student with a career, but to provide the student with an education.

Side Note for @Californian: My son has a BA in English, and it is not useless. He works as an Information Technology Manager. He would not have that job if he did NOT have that college degree. He not only has a job, he also has an education.

Autumn Cook
Lehi, UT

"Align secondary education, higher education and workforce needs?" Has anyone pondered the implications of this statement? Does this not sound like the socialist school-to-work, centrally-planned, "get assigned to your track in 8th grade and follow it the rest of your life" approach to education and work?

I am very troubled by the shift that I'm hearing in attitudes toward education. Is the purpose of education to produce workers to fill the demands of employers, or to enrich a soul with knowledge, which inevitably and without central planning produces people who want to work?

Res Novae
Ashburn, VA


Your complaint has been around since at least a decade ago when I was in your position. Lots of "entry" positions now require previous experience, so you're caught in a position where you need experience to get a job, but to get experience you need a job, but to get the job you need experience, etc, etc.... Lather, rinse, repeat. Employers seem very reluctant to risk employing someone without experience on the resume.

Unfortunately the sluggish economy has not helped as there are many people in the job market who do have experience and are willing to take "entry" positions simply to keep a roof over their heads. The recession has pounded the white collar workforce, which is where many recent college grads are trying to make an entry.

I strongly believe in the benefits of a broad university education. But the message to students has been to find a major that they love, without thinking about longterm career choices and outlooks. More realistic expectations need to be in place for students raised on the message of "work hard for your dream, and you can do whatever makes you happy".

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