The next two entries are adaptations from my final assignment for the introduction to journalism class I just completed. There’s plenty of encouraging information here to keep you stoked for college. If there’s a little bit of pride shining through…I can’t help being a mother of two amazing sons, can I?
Reclining in a beige chair in his parents’ Columbia City home with a closed laptop resting on his thighs, Thad Hughson, 18, answers questions while drumming his fingers on the laptop case. He wears a faded green t-shirt advertising Mountain Dew. Ironically, he doesn’t even drink soda, as the tall aluminum can on the table beside him bearing the Arnold Palmer logo testifies.
Only a feet away from his younger brother, Tanner Hughson, 21, reclines on both cushions of the beige loveseat. His stonewashed jeans look well-loved, with frayed edges brushing the top of his black and white sneakers. White letters on the baggy, navy-blue hooded sweatshirt announce his college of choice: Oregon Tech. When he answers the first question, the deep tone of his voice gets drowned out by a lawn mower starting up outside his parents’ home.
These young men might be encouraged to learn that statistics provided by the National Center for Education prove people with a bachelor’s degree earn 50 percent more money annually than those with only a high school diploma. Unfortunately, high unemployment rates cause many people to wonder if college degrees are worth the money since they can’t guarantee job hunting success.
The Hughson brothers have opted for seeking a college degree and currently attend university. Both of them earned Honors diplomas from St. Helens High School in St. Helens, Oregon. Tanner graduated with a 4.0 and Thad earned a 3.5 grade point average.
Thad Hughson, business major, says high school gave him a diverse educational foundation. “I knew I had a solid understanding of a majority of things on a basic level.”
Tanner, software engineering major, felt unprepared for college after high school. “Most of the classes in high school didn’t really require much effort,” Tanner says. “I didn’t really have to do much stuff outside of school in order to get good grades.”
Tanner cited methods of preparing for and taking tests as a source where major discrepancies existed between high school and college. “Most of the classes in high school for review for the test, they pretty much just give you the test,” Tanner says. In his experience, college professors answer specific questions from students during a test review session. “They tell you what to expect, categories, but they don’t give you problems.”
Oregon is one of many states implementing more stringent requirements for high school graduation, including passing assessments in the areas of math, reading and writing. Some students struggle to reach this goal and might experience burnout after graduation. Others have focused so much energy on meeting those standards; they haven’t given any thought to what comes next.
Unemployment rates should encourage students toward pursuing a college degree. According to a report in The Christian Science Monitor in February 2012, people with a bachelor’s degree have the lowest unemployment rate, 4.2 percent. On the other hand, high school graduates without any college face an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent.
Looking at projected job markets might help some people decide on a college major. Described as practical and responsible by his family, Tanner recommends a more logical method for choosing a major field of study. His advice is to choose something you enjoy doing and have an insatiable curiosity about. He has always been interested in computers and planned to attend Oregon Institute of Technology because it was his father’s alma mater. The fact that among small colleges OIT’s computer engineering program receives national recognition? That’s simply icing on the cake.
In these challenging economic times choosing a profitable college major and one in demand by employers seems reasonable. Philly.com reported on March 31, 2012: “There are 80,000 bartenders in America with B.A.s.” Such a statement emphasizes the necessity of choosing a degree program that employers find desirable. What degrees are in demand?
According to the Newsweek Daily Beast, the future looks bright for the Hughson boys. Both business and computer engineering degrees rank high on the list of useful college degrees. This means people with these degrees have more opportunities for finding a job. Business degrees ranked number two on the list behind biomedical engineering. Software engineering made the list at number four.
SOURCES: Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Stefa n-Karlsson/2012/0220/Unemployment-gap-in-education-shrinks-in-US; philly.com; Newsweek Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/05/08/useful-college-majors-from-engineering-to-mathematics-to-business.html; The College Board and the Department of Education National Center for Education http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_fgl.asp.