Your degree is worth the same as everyone else’s

What will you do to set yourself apart?

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

Sri Whorrall receives her communication and school support certificate June 15, 2012 at the spring convocation at TRU. Hopefully she added some extracurricular incentive to her future employers while she was here. Samantha Garvey/The Omega

Sri Whorrall receives her communication and school support certificate June 15, 2012 at the spring convocation at TRU. Hopefully she added some extracurricular incentive to her future employers while she was here. Samantha Garvey/The Omega

I’d like to again welcome you all to another semester and another year of post-secondary education to complete as you hurl yourselves ever forward into — what exactly?

That’s my question for you in this, the second of many weekly publications our team will produce this year. What are you hurling yourselves toward?

Gone are the days where you went off to university from high school in order to complete a degree to give yourself a significant leg up — if not guaranteed advanced placement — in the job market, increasing your value significantly to growing companies in an ever-growing economy.

No, really! That used to be the understanding.

In a recent article in The Province, retired university history professor and co-author of the book Campus Confidential Bill Morrison agreed. “The days are gone when a BA meant you had your ticket punched to the middle class,” he said, and added that the concept of base-level university education is being “oversold,” as it is promoted as a way to guarantee a higher income and better job prospects.

“It doesn’t guarantee anything,” Morrison said.

Also gone are the days when young people would venture off to post-secondary to find out what path they were to take through life, broaden their minds to the possibilities of the world and develop expanded dimensions and diversify their thought processes and structures.

With the “progression” of the institutions themselves towards being money-making enterprises and creators of the future workforce, there’s simply no option right now for most people (those willing to go deep into debt or those receiving exceptional levels of financial assistance excepted) to engage in such broadening, humanizing and personally valuable experiences for any length of time. And honestly, you can do that without spending the money on tuition these days if that’s your thing.

So with these things said, what are you doing here? If the degree itself won’t get you a job, and it’s too expensive to just mess around taking classes that interest you, what’s the point?

And why are you being so negative, Davies?

I’m not being negative; I’m being a realist.

If you just wanted a guaranteed job after you leave here because you have a piece of paper, I hope you’re studying over in the Trades and Technology building. Most of you are not, though.

Most of you also aren’t planning to go on to master’s degrees and then doctorates.

So wait … are some of you actually still under the impression that this piece of paper will get you a job after this, after all? Uh, oh — okay, maybe I can help here.

While it’s true that many jobs — I’m assuming the ones you’re interested in pursuing since you’re here — will require you to have received a degree or diploma of some kind even to consider you for the position. If this is the case, it’s a minimumrequirement to get your resume placed on the “will consider” pile of the hiring manager’s desk.

That’s it.

So what are you going to do between now and then to make you stand out? How do you move this future resume from the future “will consider” pile to the “will call for an interview” pile, so you can then have the opportunity to convince them, in person, that you’re the one they want for their organization?

There are too many answers to this question for me to go through here. Depending on what this hypothetical future career is, it could be any number of things, but you do need to start planning them, so figure it out.

Maybe it’s volunteer humanitarian work with a non-profit who has similar interests as the ideal future employer in this scenario.

Maybe it’s independent research in the field that you present at a conference (we have a few of those opportunities right here, by the way) to demonstrate your commitment and interest.

Maybe it’s a portfolio of work that you complete while you study or a leadership experience like student governance or a winning entry in some prestigious competition.

I can’t speak to you all individually, nor am I qualified to do so (there are people at TRU who are, and I recommend talking to them, too), but I can tell you that if you send in a resumé to an employer that has a bachelor’s degree as the only qualification you’ve acquired, you’d better not wait by the phone.

There are too many people, who hold undergraduate degrees in various fields, stocking shelves in department stores and rocking the headset at the drive-through of their local fast-food joint already. Let’s not add a bunch more because you didn’t think ahead about what’s going to set you apart from all those people in these classes that want the same gig you do.

Oh, and come on back next week for my advice on how to make this experience about more than just getting a job afterwards.

I know, “Make up your mind!” right?

It’s all about balance, my friends. I’ll explore that next week.

One Response

  1. Chris Boyetchko Sep. 13, 2013