Higher education misteps


Don’t get me wrong, I love college. Time in college allows students to gain lifelong friendships, years of education and opportunities to grow into a young professional. Sometimes I stop and wonder if it was all worth $40,000 in student loans, hours spent studying or time spent figuring out class schedules.

 High school students are told that the point of going to college is to obtain the knowledge that leads you to a high-paying career. Careers are great, but where are the classes that prepare you for interviews? Where are the classes that teach you what to expect in your desired career?

 I think I need to put a disclaimer out at this point. In my five years at South Dakota State University, I have had some influential professors who have really got me excited for the career I desire. I don’t have a problem with SDSU, I have a problem with the concept of college.

 I can tell you what I have learned in my five years in college: how to live comfortably in an 8-by-10 cement box, the art of wastefully spending flex dollars on unnecessary items and how long I can sleep in and still make it to class on time. I can also tell you what I didn’t learn in college: how to negotiate a salary when I take my first job, how to wisely invest money, pay off my massive student loans or what the heck a 401K is.

 I understand that college is about giving you the knowledge to become an engineer, a veterinarian or even a journalist. I do not understand who decided you needed four years to gain all of the required knowledge for a professional career or who decided what classes are required for that degree.   

My biggest question is how a student is supposed to gain five to seven years worth of knowledge in the professional field while they are taking an 18-credit-hour load? This is where people who go to technical school have an advantage over those of us who go to a four-year school.

 If technical school students have the benefit of not only hands-on experience, but also having President Obama working toward creating a program for them to attend community college for free, why the heck am I paying for this four-year degree for the next 10 years? President Obama’s plan is great in theory but not so much in reality. 

The greatest thing about technical college is that you get hands on experience in your desired career. You know exactly what you are getting yourself into and you are done in two years.

 Why would high schools encourage students to attend a university when a tech school is free?

 The problem with higher education is that smart students are bored, and the lazy students will not attend. None of it seriously prepares a student for real life—at least not professionally. Today, most middle school students don’t even know how to properly address an envelope.

 If students aren’t learning the basics of life, how do you expect higher education to work?


Brenna Ramsden is an agriculture communications major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]