This year, 65.9% of all high school graduates in the United States have gone on to enroll in some type of secondary education.
On the other side of the field, only 62% of college graduates this year took a job that required a degree.
Furthermore, of that 62%, only 27% of those graduates took a job closely related to their major.
… Excuse me…. WHAT!?!?
When time permits, one of my favorite perks of the job is going on campus visits with my students.
Campus visits traditionally consist of students and their families taking a guided tour from an enrolled student of the university, who shows you around the campus, dorms, dining halls etc. and tells you about how “great the school is”, and how “you will surely fit right in.” They are watered down, pep rallies.
Typically, these tours are done on weekends or days when the campus is less crowded than usual, not giving you the full effect of the more important features of the school such as the class size, structure, and learning styles.
(It’s a technique that’s baffled me since I went on my own tours with my family not too long ago).
At the end of this past school year, I had a couple of seniors who were down to the wire on making their final decision on where they would head off to school in the fall. One case, in particular, was the inspiration of this article and research.
Ron is a platinum student in The College Confidence Program. When he and his parents hired me late in Ron’s senior year of high school, he had a few ideas on what he thought he might have wanted to major in, but no real concrete reasons as to why or how he had come to those conclusions.
We had worked through his Discovery and Strategies portions of the process and had come to the agreement that he was best suited for a business administration focus with an MBA as the end goal of his collegiate journey. He did not want to go too far from home, but knew he would like to live on campus. With all this in mind, we originally had a list of about ten schools that fit his academic and personal wants/needs, and by the spring, had it narrowed down to two very qualified, yet very different universities.
Ron had gone to the freshman mixers at both schools with his family and seemed set on one of them when he came to a Plan Launch meeting with me at the office. When he told me that he made his final decision, I must admit I was surprised. When I asked him how he came to such a firm conclusion, his answer to me was,
“It was just a lot more fun at their mixer”.
Though we want all of our students to enjoy their time on campus, this wasn’t convincing enough for me to let him make this final decision based on a good time. I asked him if he’d humor me by going on a CCC campus visit, instead of the one’s he’d been on, and he agreed.
The school he had told me was his firm choice was much larger than the other option on the table. We set up a time to visit the campus during a normal weekday and sat in on a required freshman pre-requisite course.
This particular course had over 100 enrolled students in a lecture hall setting. For some students, this type of learning style is wonderful and preferred; for others, it’s a personal and financial nightmare.
Ron and I sat in the back of the classroom and watched herds of students file down the rows and quickly fill the seats of the lecture hall.
What happened next was both astounding, and yet very much to the verification of why self-discovery is crucial in collegiate planning.
Within five minutes of the lecture’s beginning, at least four dozen laptops, phones and tablets illuminated the dark room…. Within another two minutes, more than half of the screens that I could see were scrolling through the timelines of Facebook.
The average college course consists of three individual credits that students are awarded upon its completion. Without any type of fees, dorms, books and other excess expenses this year, Tuition at a public in-state school runs, on average, around $9200. A private university is close to $32,000. A public out-of-state school is somewhere around $22,000. If you do the math correctly, that equates to EACH CREDIT, costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 for the public in-state, $1050 for the private university, and $720 for the public out-of-state. To reiterate, those numbers are not per course, they are PER CREDIT!
I will give much credit to the students who diligently paid attention to the lecture and followed along with the professor and his teachings. As I stated earlier, for some students, this can be a very effective learning style.
But for the other half, who were now somewhere lost between stalking their friends and playing candy crush, all I could see were dollar signs floating above their heads, displayed for the university’s grasp.
As I had expected, before we even stepped foot in the class room, Ron went white when I asked him again how confident he was in his choice to attend this school in just a few short months.
“Evan… I’m not so sure I could hack it there.” – his exact words.
It was never my intention to sway Ron one way or the other. Simply, I just wanted him to experience what life would be like prior to making such a major investment.
After we visited his other option and got a taste for a typical pre-requisite course in a smaller class room, Ron immediately felt at ease making his final decision and is now excelling with the plan we organically built from the ground up.
The point in all this is clear and simple.
How are students and families expected to make these major investments, without first knowing how their minds most effectively operate?
Every student and every family should be given the opportunity to know themselves inside and out before even thinking about what schools, majors and careers they seek.
The refreshment of having self-confidence in the decision making process is a gift that I have been given to share with all who seek my help. It is my dream and mission to scale this program and business to a place where everyone can come and experience, at least a glimpse, to avoid the mindless scrolling of Facebook when such major dollars are being spent on that time.