One More Beef With Education

Bus Driver
Park Ranger
Computer Programmer

These are a few of the things that remember wanting to be when I grew up. Except for the first two (which were on my radar when I was about five), I realized that I wanted to be these things through the help of school career counseling between 7th and 12th grade. Every year during that time, a counselor would come into one my classes and I would have to take a questionnaire that asked me things like “Do you prefer working individually or as part of a group?” and “Do you prefer having a set, rigid work schedule or a flexible one?” The questionnaire would narrow down all possible careers and tell me what type of career I should pursue.

Looking back on this experience, I can’t help feeling like this was an epic waste of time. While I can’t fault the system for my changing interests each year, I do question their approach and execution of my “career guidance.” I feel that too much emphasis was placed on the “what” and not enough on the “how.” Unless my memory fails me, we spent very little time discussing the best paths for me to choose to make my dream career possible. To make my career become a reality, I was taught, I should go to college and major in that field. However, the older I get, the more I am coming to the realization that going to college and majoring in what one wants to do is only one of many ways to make a dream career possible. As an 18 year old recent high school graduate, I knew next to nothing about internships, work-study programs, specialized vocational schools or other opportunities that might have been a good fit for me.

So what did I do? I went to the educational equivalent of Wal-Mart. At my “big box” university, I got a quality education for a low-price. Seven and a half semesters later, I left my alma mater with an amazingly bland degree in general business. At the time, of course, I didn’t know that my degree was bland. I had been taught to go to college and major in what I wanted to do, and that’s what I did. Yet, in just the first couple of years since graduation, I have learned the (now obvious) lesson that a very general degree gets you a very general job.

In retrospect, I don’t know what more direction on the “how” could have done for me. After all, what I wanted to be changed radically from year to year and essentially has nothing to do with the path I’m now pursuing. On the other hand, with more “how”, I might have gained skills and learned about opportunities that could have opened me up to something other than a bland big box bachelor’s degree and set me on a more efficient track.

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