Ohio State University’s newest president says the institution is committing $400 million over five years to lower students’ costs and improve the value of their education.
College Degrees Are More Than Job Prep.
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As part of his effort to reform government Governor Kasich urges state colleges and universities to offer three-year bachelor degrees. The governor argues three-year programs will cost less, reduce student loan debt, and get students into the job market faster.
Governor Kasich’s concern for students’ financial well being is commendable. They have it tough during this economic downturn.
Yet, the governor’s three-year degree plan misses the purpose of a four-year bachelor program. It is the outcomes that are important, not the length of schooling.
Bachelor programs focus on offering a diverse curriculum. They require students possess a breadth of knowledge across many and different disciplines. For instance, English majors must take math and science courses.. Math majors have to take general humanities courses covering literature and the visual arts. The purpose of the degree is not merely to give students a focused training in one area, but also to give students a sense of intellectual roundedness.
Universities are and should be different than technical schools. Tech schools offer students the chance to master skills required for a specific trade, without the added general education courses. The sole purpose of a technical school is to train future workers. And unlike bachelor degree programs, , technical programs tend to be one to three years in length.
If the logic for a three-year bachelor’s program is to push students out into the workforce faster, why not encourage high school students to pursue technical degrees instead?
By shortening the bachelor’s degree, you devalue the technical degree.,. Students should want to attend a four-year program not because they want a job, because they want that full intellectual experience. If students only attend college for employment, let’s start promoting the technical schools as an option and leave the four-year program alone.
And just because a student graduates in three years does not make them more prepared for the reality of life outside of college. We assume that students graduate with a clear idea of what they want to do in life. Yet, many graduates still flounder when they leave college.
Perhaps the solution is not creating three-year programs, but investing funds and resources for colleges to help better prepare their students for life after graduation.
Ultimately, reducing college to an issue of time diminishes the overall focus of higher education. Whether it is a one-year technical program or a five-year bachelor’s degree, ultimately it is the student who chooses his or her path within the university. Focus should remain on their needs rather than the needs of the economy.