Universities hope degree programs result in good jobs for students

March 14, 2017

Wyatt Lee

Special to the Scribe

(Editor’s Note: As part of COMM 2900, Writing for the Media, students submitted articles that tied a Gallup poll to the local area. The best was selected for use in The Scribe and is printed here).

     When you were a kid, and someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, you might have said firefighter, astronaut, writer, musician, athlete, veterinarian or doctor.

     But some of us may have never said that we want to be happy, to be a father or a mother, to be healthy, successful or never be needy.

     The reason is simple: what a lot of people want when they “grow up” is a good job. A Gallup poll published in January 2017 shows that 83 percent of college provosts and academic officers believe their institutions are focused on developing degree programs that lead to good jobs.

     Universities not only hope to provide students with diplomas, but programs within the degrees that will help students find a job before or after they graduate and succeed in their field of study.

     While junior Melissa Branch studies mechanical engineering at UCCS, she also works in aerospace at Lockheed Martin.

     Branch believes her degree will open more job opportunities, but doesn’t think that it’s going to help improve her work skills.

     “Has my (degree) program taught me the math behind tracking the movements of satellites in orbit? Sure. But at this level, we have programs and computers that do all that for us,” Branch said.

     “My education hasn’t prepped me for actually working. For me, it’s about the piece of paper you get at the end. The diploma is what is going to open opportunities for me. Until then, college is just an unfortunate waiting period.”

     Learning concepts and how to apply it to your job is important, according to junior physics major Dennis Thompkins.

     “I believe there would definitely be a learning curve to one day work in applied physics (or engineering), but I could definitely work doing the sort of lab work and studies UCCS is doing.”

     According to the same Gallup poll, 89 percent of students said they found “project-based learning, mentorships, and internships” extremely or very effective.

     This takes on several forms at UCCS, including clubs, organizations, job fairs and within the classroom.

     “College is a worthy investment, only if you take advantage of the additional opportunities. The extracurriculars and free events (such as job fairs) are the most important for networking. It gives you work experience where the classes (for my degree program) do not,” Thompkins said.

     Pat Green sits at a chair at Clyde’s Café sipping on a cup of coffee and scribbling notes on her latest personal goal: her dissertation.

     Green, who received her degree in speech-language pathology from Bowling Green State University nearly 35 years ago, is a retired assistant principal, who has returned to school to get her doctorate in educational leadership.

     Green believes her current degree program will benefit her in the workforce after she graduates.

     “A lot of what has maximized my education and my career is the experience.” Green said.

     “When I think about my degree from Bowling Green, I graduated with all the necessary knowledge to do my job. Working is different, because you have to learn to navigate the job and the expectations. But college becomes an incredibly worthy investment because it already teaches how to do that.”

     What the world, and what college students, wants most is good job, and it just so happens that higher education believes it’s going to help you get there.