A college education was not always viewed as just job training. At one point, going to college was also considered a time for self exploration and academic growth.
Over the years, the focus in college has become more about a student’s career after college as opposed to now, focusing on the development of that students interests and intellect right now.
Today, universities and community colleges are both marketed to students as the first step towards having a future career and a good life. Based off of my experience, this idea was reinforced as early as middle school and high school.
18 year-olds entering college are expected to know all of their interests, with a plan for what they want to study. Eventually students conclude they have no idea what they want to do and often pick a major they aren’t passionate about.
According to the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, 20 to 50 percent of college students enter college with a declared major they will eventually change later.
I was 15 years old when my high school decided to have a four-month long college preparation workshop. The workshop focused on picking a major and a future career.
Looking back, I was far too young and inexperienced to know what I wanted to do with my life when my biggest concern at the time was the upcoming prom. Four years later, I am still figuring things out at American River College.
When I picked journalism as my major I assumed that I would be able to change it at any time if I decided it wasn’t for me. However, changing majors can inevitably lengthen the amount of time a student spends at community college.
To transfer out of ARC, students must accumulate 60 transferable units for their major of choice in California. This usually takes anywhere from two to four years.
If at anytime students decide to change their major, any transferable units they gained from their first major are deemed useless.
Students presumably have to completely start over. This can add an additional year or two onto any students time in community college.
Financial aid doesn’t make this any easier. After a student has accumulated the maximum amount of transfer units, they can no longer receive aid. This can make exploring majors even more difficult as most students rely solely on financial aid in order to even enroll at ARC.
Finding a career is important, but the process leading up to it should allow more space for students to grow and find themselves. I fear that this career focus by universities takes away students’ opportunities to intellectually grow as people.
The original purpose of higher education was to explore and expand our knowledge of the world and prepare for the experiences that lie ahead. The purpose today is to get a job for ourselves.