xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

College: You get out what you put in [Commentary]

I've read the tweets, the blogs and the experts. Yes, yes, I understand that a college degree doesn't guarantee a post-college career. But don't tell this to my peers. Far too often I hear them talk about how they enrolled in college because they need a degree to get a job. While this is partially correct, they ignored the most important caveat: Simply passing classes and graduating with a degree will not guarantee a job. But using the time and opportunities that college provides can help you create a path to the job or career you want. Neglect that fine distinction and you graduate at your own risk.

My college years have demonstrated to me that the students who have the drive to learn more and do more than what's expected in the classroom can improve their chances of getting a good job out of school. Classes and theory aren't necessarily going to teach you how to work in the real world.

Advertisement

Like many universities, my school has a dedicated group of career service professionals who work to prepare me for a competitive job market. They set up interviews on campus, help me research companies of interest, and work with me to construct the ideal resume and network with employers on and off campus. But, unlike many universities, they make themselves hard to ignore. In fact, from the very beginning of your freshman year, they are there drawing you into a process (we call it Career Architecture at my school) that engages you to think more deeply and deliberately about how college and your degree can help you get a job. I can choose to ignore doing this with no immediate peril such as a failing grade. And maybe that's the problem in today's higher education: Academics get the most attention in students' minds while career services are relegated to the back burner.

As a Business Administration major, I have some classes that aren't your traditional courses. My Strategic Management class and Capstone course force me to work with real-life problems. I research real companies, read real reports and create real strategies that I believe will help the particular company. My professors all have the real-world experience in the business world. Many have logged more than 30 years in corporate life, and they integrate their experiences into their teaching. On top of that, they have brought our career services office into the classroom, not kept it at a distance. Early on in my major, I learned what career services offered for students in my field of study and what I needed to do to start a career path. Students across the country need to do the same. No excuses.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Our president prefers to call it "Theory, Practice, and Mentoring." Theory without the practice and mentoring is the college degree that won't get you a job. But having a mentor who has worked in a field that interests you and having experiences that give you the chance to practice in a field will set you apart in the giant arena of untapped talent.

Through my time at college, I have held two corporate internships, played a varsity sport, joined clubs and held three campus jobs. All of these experiences that I chose have given me countless real-life and transferable skills that boost my appeal to a prospective employer. These parts of college — external to the classroom — are what have helped me find and prepare for what I want to do. A degree isn't about what you did inside the classroom. It's about what you are willing to do that isn't required. In May 2015 when I graduate, I won't be crossing the stage with angst, and I won't be second-guessing myself, because I decided that college would give me more than a degree.

Daniel Waters is a senior business administration major at Stevenson University. His email is dwaters@stevenson.edu.

To respond to this commentary, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement