Each week we meet via Twitter for #IOLchat to discuss current issues related to online learning. Participants include students, instructors, eLearning companies, schools, publishers, and instructional designers.
What’s the value of an education? This question was posed by PayScale.com recently and sparked some discussion of the potential of college for career preparation. Should colleges and universities focus on programs that lead to specific careers and job placement for graduates? While some educators are moving in this direction, others argue that the goals of the University should more broadly address intellectual growth and development.
Here’s a summary of this week’s chat:
What are your thoughts on the purpose(s) of higher education?
- Purposes include both personal development and acquisition of marketable/professional skills.
- Having a degree is an earned credential, verifying learning achievement – “something no one can ever take from you. You can lose your job, but you will still have the credential.”
What is the student perspective?
- Recent surveys show a split in how students view the purpose of a college education – Acquiring skills (47%), Personal Growth (38%).
- Some of the most valued classes are those that “allowed hands-on experience while also providing challenging coursework.”
- Different groups of students may have different views – for younger students, personal growth and exploration may be more important, while adult learners may be more interested in developing professional skills.
How is career development a part of higher education?
- Career exploration activities can help students decide if a field or profession is right for them. It can take place in many ways both in and outside of classroom and “help people define an intentional career path.”
- The school environment provides a setting in which students can make mistakes, and learn from them, before moving on to a workplace where mistakes may have detrimental effects.
- Education can do more. Many report that career development activities are saved for advanced courses, but a shift is recommended that addresses all levels of education – “passion exploration (primary school), career exploration (secondary school), life preparation (post-secondary).”
- Partnerships, collaborations, and conversations among academics, employers, and career development specialists are needed.
Do you agree with those that say a college degree isn’t necessary?
- “It depends.” There are jobs and careers that require a degree either for entry or to advance to higher levels of work and employment. Pharmacy is just one example.
- For the design field, as another example, working professionals are “constantly learning new things every day with the advance of technology.” A degree may or not be necessary for hire, and learning will be ongoing once you start.
- The decision to pursue higher education is in many ways individual to each student – different for each learner based on his or her goals, interests, preferences, and abilities. There’s no one right path or answer.
- “Success stories and failures can be found on both sides of the argument. It comes down to the individual.”
- Depending on the field, those without a degree may face a tougher road to success, but it’s not impossible. “The individual’s motivation, drive, and innovation” come into play, as well as other characteristics and attributes such as having a vision and being willing to take risks.
- It’s also crucial to consider the point of view of the employers in your chosen field. “You can’t get in some doors without it.” Other doors open with certification and proven skills and experience.
What advice do you have for students that aren’t sure if higher education is right for them?
- Spending time and effort exploring multiple paths, options, etc. is necessary. Research the job market, assess different careers and occupations for “fit,” and find out what type and level of education and training are required.
- Before offering advice, ask these students about their plans not only for work, but also for life – who, what, when, where, how, etc.
- “Have a vision and let your determination drive it home.”
Thanks to @ProctorU, @TheCommonsMG, @The_Raheel, @GradSchoolNinja, @InsideJobs, @14eleven, @atxhobogrl, @MHark, and @WhtWudJacksonDo for participating in the live event! Help us to continue the discussion by adding your thoughts via the comments area on this page.
For more from the most recent live session, review the chat feed below. Our past chats can be found on the archives page.
This week’s read aheads:
- Measuring the Value of a Degree and the Purpose of College from Jeff Selingo at The Huffington Post-College
- What is the purpose of a college education? Survey results from Pew Research Center and The College Board
- Half of All Recent Graduates Are Unemployed or Underemployed from PayScale
- Vocation or Exploration? Pondering the Purpose of College from The New York Times
This week’s chat feed:
Image credit: sholeh!!, Flickr, CC-BY