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Running head: EFFECTS OF STUDENT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

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Effects of Student Employment Opportunities in Relation to Degrees Awarded

Patrick J. Fallon

Northeastern University

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Abstract

There is an obstacle that every undergraduate student encounters once their degree is awarded

student encounters once their degree is awarded them after graduation, which is employment after college. As

them after graduation, which is employment after college. As employers are seeking more job

to
to

seekers holding degrees, there is an increasing amount of college graduates that are entering the

workforce. The one qualification that every employer seeks from every applicant is foundational

skills (Sigelman & Zinshteyn, 2015). As more students take courses on the higher education

level, there is an inadequate system of instruction that is not benefiting the student from

of instruction that is not benefiting the student from receiving the skills they need earlier in

receiving

the skills they need earlier in their academic career. With this, it suggests that a college

degree does not hold significant value for many employers and that colleges and universities

need to reconsider a different approach to educate their students for the future.

Keywords:

EFFECTS OF STUDENT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

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Effects of Student Employment Opportunities in Relation to Degrees Awarded

As more college graduates enter the workforce, employers are increasingly recruiting job

applicants that hold a college degree. It is therefore of great importance that job applicants attend

is therefore of great importance that job applicants attend an institution of higher education and gain

an institution of higher education and gain knowledge on the particular field that they are

interested in.

In an analysis of 2.3 million positions that range from business management and

administrative workers to training and computer network specialists, two-thirds of the new

job postings required a bachelor’s degree even though fewer than half of workers currently

employed in those positions attained a bachelor’s (Zinshteyn, 2015).

those positions attained a bachelor’s (Zinshteyn, 2015). The one area that all employers are seeking from

The one area that all employers are seeking from all of their applicants is foundational skills

(Sigelman & Zinshteyn, 2015), which are associated with a liberal arts education (e.g., ability to

accept feedback, work collaboratively, manage one’s time) (Zinshteyn, 2015). These are

necessary skills that can be obtained in any institution of higher education, but how it’s delivered

institution of higher education, but how it’s delivered to the student that makes a significant impact.

to the student that makes a significant impact. In order for prospective college students to be

successful in obtaining employment once they graduate from an institution of higher learning,

institutions need to re-develop their approach to curriculum standards, encourage more faculty

approach to curriculum standards, encourage more faculty interaction with students, and reexamine the valuableness of

interaction with students, and reexamine the valuableness of a college degree. With this to

consider, colleges and universities across the country should reconsider their approach in

preparing students for future careers, and whether or not their degrees are valuable to employers.

Re-Developing Curriculum Standards

In the system of higher education, there are many different approaches to teaching in the

classroom. According to Boyer, “Excellence in teaching is the means by which the vitality of the

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college is extended and a network of intellectual enrichment and cultural understanding is built”

enrichment and cultural understanding is built” (Boyer, 60). The question that should be addressed is how

(Boyer, 60). The question that should be addressed is how extend that intellectual enrichment

and cultural understanding on a broader scale outside of the proposed curriculum? Students

should gain work experience from the very beginning of their academic experience. With the

combination of work experience as well as faculty instruction, this not only builds upon

foundational skills that were mentioned by Singelman and Zinshteyan, but also bridges a better

by Singelman and Zinshteyan, but also bridges a better understanding of the career chosen by the

understanding of the career chosen by the student. One of the key issues with many institutions

of higher education is completing the general education requirements for one to two years prior

to getting introduced to the required courses for selected majors. Sandy Shugart, president of

courses for selected majors. Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College and opposed to the model for

Valencia College and opposed to the model for higher education instruction, claims it “asks

students to ‘defer [their] gratification long enough and stay in school long enough’ before they

explore the thing that interested them in the first place” (Shugart & Zinshteyn, 2015). This not

only lowers their personal motivation to want to pursue that career, but gives doubt whether or

not that student would be successful in another career path.

Faculty Engagement

Students who seek help from their professors are not only self-reliant, but they understand

the importance of what it means to ask for their guidance, especially when applying for a job in

the near future with a degree. In this case, many faculty members are not being utilized for the

purposes that they should, which is to guide their students to succeed in the future. “Today,

almost all colleges and universities say faculty should engage in teaching, research, and service,

but when it comes to tenure and promotion, the latter often is forgotten” (Boyer, 36). Service, in

this regard, is the student. In other words, students as mentors through an “apprenticeship”

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approach. According to Buffy Smith, faculty-mentoring consultant at the University of St.

Thomas, faculty should “empower (students) by showing them how to do things for themselves”

(Smith & Abdul-Alim, 2014). This is known as discovering the hidden curriculum (Smith,

2014), which is the “unwritten norms, values, expectations, behaviors, codes of conduct” that are

“not transparent or accessible to all students” (Smith, 2014). Faculty members who are advisors

can meet on a personal level and explain from their experiences what the students should expect.

from their experiences what the students should expect. There are many ways faculty advisor can make

There are many ways faculty advisor can make a difference in how a student can succeed

beyond the classroom in providing opportunities to their students. Some of these include

internship opportunities and stronger letters of recommendation (Smith, 2014). Every student,

especially a first generation college student, needs a role model to guide him or her in the right

direction. With these tools at their disposal, faculty advisors will be admired among the student

population and will strengthen the bond between them. Faculty advisors hold the key to infinite

possibilities that can guide students in the right direction towards getting a job after college and

the right direction towards getting a job after college and overcome challenges they may face. Degree

overcome challenges they may face.

Degree Integrity

Mentioned previously in the introduction, employers are increasingly looking for more job

applicants with a degree from an institution of higher education, whether an associates or a

bachelor’s degree. According to Zinshteyn, “a fifth of jobs demand a certification in addition to a

bachelor’s degree no matter the concentration, Burning Glass research shows…just 200 were

what more than 2 million job postings requested in the past 12 months” (Burning Glass &

Zinshteyn, 2015). In addition to that data, Georgetown University predicts “65 percent of jobs by

2020 will require a postsecondary education” (Zinshteyn, 2015). Where does that put the value

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EFFECTS OF STUDENT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES 6 of the student’s degree earned? Is the value placed on

of the student’s degree earned? Is the value placed on it worth more than what it should be? The

degree that is being offered to the student is being falsely advertised as a means of getting a good

job. More students in this modern economy are paying high tuition and taking out massive

amounts of loans to pay for a good quality education. With the student loan debit now in the

trillions of dollars, colleges and universities need to find a universal solution for how curriculum

can suffice the value of the degree earned by the student.

With the value of the degree in various forms, there is an inconsistency based on what kind

of education is being received by the student. “Some workforce experts say that liberal arts

education in its current form is insufficient for many of the jobs out there, with the

unemployment rate for such graduates twice as high as those with degrees in math or

engineering” (Zinshteyn, 2015). Every college should give the same training skills that would

benefit them in the workforce, such as those that are technologically based. According to data

retrieved from Burning Glass, technical skills outweigh baseline skills in various occupations.

Having that essential knowledge of “soft” skills with a combination of work experience can

“soft” skills with a combination of work experience can bring the value of the degree to

bring the value of the degree to a rise and bring back its integrity without the feeling of financial

burden for the student after college.

feeling of financial burden for the student after college. Conclusion Based what has been mentioned, colleges

Conclusion

Based what has been mentioned, colleges and universities across the country should

reconsider their approach in preparing students for future careers, and whether or not their

degrees are valuable to employers. Having this reconsideration brings benefits for the students in

the long term and satisfies employers that hire prospective students. These are issues that

students need to consider when thinking about life after college and preparing for that next big

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step. Colleges and universities across the country seem to have another academic revolution in

the country seem to have another academic revolution in their midst when it comes to reform.

their midst when it comes to reform. Without sacrificing the student’s financially, the focus

needs to be on building skills that are transferable and have substance. The next generation of

college students and student employment needs to change for the future of the American

economy.

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References

Abdul-Alim, Jamaal (September 8, 2014). Colleges Urged to Take Advising of Underrepresented

Students to Deeper Level. Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Retrieved from

http://diverseeducation.com/article/66772/?utm_campaign=Diverse%20Newsletter%203&

utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elq=82772667e2334157934731fc05a8fe9c&el

qCampaignId=358.

Boyer, Ernest L. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. New York:

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Zinshteyn, Mikhail (September 23, 2015). The New Effort to Link College to Careers. Education

Writers Association. Retrieved from http://www.ewa.org/blog-higher-ed-beat/new-effort-

link-college-careers.