Diploma ≠ Golden Ticket

[Opinion article published in the Yellow Jacket Newspaper on Nov. 14, 2013]

  As a college student, I have realized a common trait in a vast majority of undergrads: We are incredibly, terribly, shamefully lazy. America has really bought into the idea of college graduates. In the struggling economy, it is well known that having a college diploma will give you an upper hand in the job market. Many employers are known to make comments such as “It doesn’t matter what you have a degree in as long as you have a degree in something.” Comments such as this give people the notion that a college degree – rather than a strong work ethic, a stellar portfolio, a great transcript, or a combination of all four –  is the absolute most important factor in getting hired. Since college, or rather the idea of college, is valued so highly, most people feel like they must graduate from college in order to be successful. A diploma from centuries and decades past was appealing because it was rare. Only the hardest workers or the smartest students received college degrees, making the achievement prestigious. Now, since the opinion of college has been so highly elevated, nearly everyone attends, despite the rising cost of tuition. Families or individuals who cannot afford college take out tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans, spending the rest of their lives in debt. The jobs that college graduates work often times don’t pay enough to allow students to pay off the debt they assumed. The fact of the matter is: College is overrated. Although college students tend to be viewed as extremely hard workers and perseverant students, a good number of college students who I come in contact with are ridiculously lazy. They complain when they have to lift a finger for their class work. They put sleep and socializing above studying. They wear pajamas and sweats to class. They eat meals and stare at their phones during lectures. They have pity parties for themselves via social media. And these are the people getting the upper hand in the job market? We all have days where we feel overworked and stressed out, but this “why me” mentality should not be the attitude of one’s entire college experience. The sad reality is that since college has become so common, students feel like it is an entitlement rather than a privilege, and for that reason, they do not value it. When getting ready to graduate from high school, many students choose their university based on their friends, the atmosphere or nightlife of the location, the amount of activities the school offers, or the policies or strictness of the school; basically everything but the education. Instead of viewing college as a time to grow up and prepare for a respectable career, many students view it as their last years to be wild and free without many consequences or responsibilities. The real problem with this is that college students focus solely on getting a degree rather than getting experience in their field and developing as professionals, breeding grossly underqualified and overconfident college graduates. These people will get a rude awakening when they find that a college degree is meaningless unless you are actually qualified and responsible. Honestly, many people are just not cut out for college. College should be challenging and time consuming because a college degree should be meaningful. Rather than waste their – or their parents’ – money complaining their way through college, people who don’t want to put in the work should not attend. No student is entitled to graduate from college just as graduates are not entitled to jobs. This overrated view of college is producing a generation who will do anything to get that “golden ticket,” but nothing more to prepare themselves for post-college life.