Originally published Sept. 22, 2013

Co-written with editorial board

Let’s face it: students don’t like research papers. In fact, most students don’t like research at all. So chances are that they’ve deliberately avoided it in all forms—including research regarding their future careers.

They think: why invest more time into career preparation when I’m already working on the degree?

But the truth is, this sort of research is absolutely necessary.

As described in Sarah Hillenbrand’s front-page story “Passion over pay,” the recession left many jobs few and far between, and those that are available often require more work with less pay. Students without this inside knowledge graduate with unrealistic expectations for their salary and job title, as well as too much debt to invest in a more practical degree. So shouldn’t students know about their futures going into college when investing their life savings in a bachelor’s degree?

While the Lanthorn staff believes that students should be responsible for exposing themselves to field statistics and career expectations, the university that grants them a degree should not be without fault for their ignorance.

After all, how many professors will stand at the front of class and admit that professionals who achieved doctorates in their field make about the same as a trade school graduate? Not many, we suppose. Rather, they shamelessly promote their area of study to majors and moldable students in general education courses regardless of the potential career payoff.

And this lack of transparency has led many a college student to waste funds in a field with few returns. They are unaware that, after walking off the stage with their diploma in hand, they’ll be joining a large job pool vying for few positions at low or unexpected peak salaries.

Even students who are passionate about their subject are not always fully aware of the lifestyle they’re setting themselves up for. Or they have little idea about the pre-graduation work required to land the job title they want.

Many careers are difficult for younger people—especially recent college graduates— to launch into because the company or organization is looking for someone with experience or transferable skills that the applicant never knew they needed. They were unaware of the high demands for applicants and were unprepared to delve into the field. Thus, it falls on the colleges to tell students when they first matriculate (not when they can no longer do anything about it) that full achievement in their fields might require them to put forth extra effort to make themselves stand out—whether with a high GPA or multiple prestigious internships.

In the end, it’s all about transparency.

While realistic future earnings and college expectations may not change people’s minds about filtering into the field’s job pool, being transparent seems like the honest, best path a university can take, rather than collecting tuition payments and letting students discover post-graduation the mess that they’ve stumbled into.

Whether it’s a written disclaimer or a brief conversation, all colleges—including Grand Valley State University—need to be honest with students and give them updated information about job openings and realistic earnings.

 

Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/09/true-transparency

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