Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: The Value of a Bachelor's Degree in the Real World

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Value of a Bachelor's Degree in the Real World

Photo illustration by Jonathan Barkat for The Chronicle
      Hi All! I hope you've been staying safe and warm in the midst of Winter Storm Saturn, especially our  graduate friends in Virginia and D.C.! Over the last few days, I've been thinking about an interesting article in the latest issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Reporting the results of a survey issued by the Chronicle, the article describes recent concerns about the value of the Bachelor's of Arts Degree. The article points out that, while the BA is generally required to get hired in most private sector entry level jobs, the hiring companies are complaining about the lack of preparation that the BA provides for the positions being filled.
    Writer Karin Fisher outlines: "These days a bachelor's degree is practically a prerequisite for getting your résumé read—two-thirds of employers said they never waive degree requirements, or do so only for particularly outstanding candidates. But clearly the credential leaves employers wanting. While they use college as a sorting mechanism, to signal job candidates' discipline and drive, they think it is falling short in adequately preparing new hires."
    According to the survey, hiring companies complained that bachelor's-degree holders were "lacking basic workplace proficiencies, like adaptability, communication skills, and the ability to solve complex problems."
    It is not, in other words, a lack of technical skills and proficiency, that the companies are complaining about, but rather fundamental basics -- even something as simple as "knowing how to think."
image from marblesthebrainstore.com
     What are the implications for graduate students and graduate education, do you think? On the surface, it may seem that this problem is actually good news for graduate degree holders or students. If BA holders aren't cutting the mustard, maybe MA/ Phd holders can? Maybe employers are looking for an increased maturity of intellect that comes with a few more rigorous years of graduate education?
OR -- does this survey implicate a larger problem with higher education meeting the needs of the professional world in general?
    What you do readers make of this? Does this complaint about the BA increase the value of the MA or Phd -- or does it diminish the value of higher education in general?
Let's discuss!
--LZ

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