It seems as if we are in the cycle when the articles about college and university education focus upon the income earned after graduation. Occasionally, there is a slight variation, and the article, news story, or blog post focuses on career success. And, of course, these stories miss the point. These are the outcomes of a college education. There is not a guarantee associated with a college degree. To this point, many like to point out examples of those with college degrees getting fast-food jobs. But, of course, these stories of less successful career outcomes miss the point as well.
College is a unique transforming journey tailored to each individual. The importance of the previous statement compels me to repeat and rephrase. A successful college experience will transform the individual in a manner that will alter the trajectory of their life. The goal of colleges and universities is to create an environment where each individual can transcend the projected straight line of their supposed destiny. The roots of this highly successful system have been around for over 2500 years. (This history will be the subject of a separate blog).
I read an interesting article pointing out some successful business people that did not complete their college education https://hbr.org/2018/02/how-ceos-without-college-degrees-got-to-the-top. Of course, there is a flip side to the statistics of the article. That flip side implies that 92% of the 2600 CEOs have college degrees or a whopping 2,392. For now, let me point out the positive impact of this individualized system on a very personal level. By personal, I mean I will relate my own experience.
Mine is neither dramatic, awe-inspiring, or particularly interesting. Instead, I think you may find the essence of the beauty of the college transformation is in its very mundane nature. My father was an enlisted man in the U.S. Army Air Corps and then the U.S. Air Force. He was the son of what is called a sharecropper today. My mother was college educated and the only daughter of a middle-class family. Unfortunately, my father passed away when I was five. This fact is relevant only so much as his Air Force benefits are a big part of what enabled me to go to college.
Now I went to college in the late 1970s and early 1980s. My degree is a B.S. in Statistics. I am sure none of my professors would remember me. I attended the University of Florida, which even then was a large state institution. I had a great experience, but what sticks in my mind the most is how those years form such a fundamental foundation. None of the technical computer skills I learned then are relevant, but the decision trees we had to learn still are part of my planning process. The language I learned was Latin. I remember next to nothing but the words of other romance languages such as Spanish, Italian, and even German have patterns I recognize.
My skepticism of doomsayers and pessimists remains from my college experience. I remember clearly the abundance of articles about the coming Ice Age (see Time Magazine January 31, 1973). This quote is a personal favorite of mine "Climate experts believe the next ice age is on its way."- Leonard Nimoy, 1978. You can see more here http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/02/the-1970s-global-cooling-alarmism.html. Of course, these comments and projections are in direct contrast to the current Global Warming projections. I am not here to take sides in either projection. But point out, my nuanced view of both projections is a product of my college education that included science, mathematics, languages, social sciences, and breadth in all subjects. This expansive approach to subjects in a college education changed me forever.
Nor was this an easily accomplished transformation. I was young and unbelievably self-assured. My college education launched me in my career, and I was successful beyond even some of my grandiose ideas. I also had some significant setbacks, which, once again, my college education provided the resiliency for recovery. Through it all, I continued to transcend what was likely a mediocre path. I have no idea where a child raised in a single-parent family in the 60s would have ended up, but I do not think it would be where I am now. Even with a college degree, I am not sure many (especially not me) would have projected me as the chair of an academic unit at a University or a Full Professor. Nevertheless, I am a college professor teaching B2B digital marketing. The mere existence of this blog provides another example of the change wrought by my college education.
Therefore, to me, a college education is not the outcome but the opportunity. The design of each university and college is to create the opportunity to transform. Sometimes students do not avail themselves of the opportunity provided but still successfully graduate. That is their loss. There are other examples of those non-graduates that did encounter the transformation. That is great. However, for the vast majority, the opportunity to transcend is there, and they fully embrace all that is offered. This opportunity is not imposed upon any. Instead, it must be embraced by each individual. Then the transformation and transcendence can occur, creating the potential later positive outcomes. Those outcomes will likely occur but are absolutely the byproduct of the college education and not the primary goal.
I encourage all who read this considering college for themselves or their children to reframe your questions. Do not just ask about the post-graduation outcomes. Instead, ask and listen to the answers about how the university plans to transform. What systems are in place that make the change and even the transformation in the future graduate?
Many of you know that I am teaching B2B marketing #b2b #b2bmarketing using LinkedIn as the platform for the students to learn how to manage both a LeadGen and ABM campaign. Some may also know of my firm conviction that a university education is a transformative event. Combining these two important aspects of my life has led to this latest endeavor. I will be posting links to my blogs on the value ofHere are my essays.