College graduates earn more than high school graduates. However, this measurement alone doesn’t inform us about the struggles and stresses that college graduates face. It doesn’t consider the loans they accumulates , how long it takes them to get a job, or whether their chosen major(s) will get them a high paying job, if any at all. Students need information about the drawbacks of their chosen paths so they can avoid them and get the best out of their degree.
UT should make such information available to students, and, provide some more information to evade those drawbacks.
Staggering statistics show that 44 percent of college graduates worked in jobs that didn’t require a degree, 5 percent more recent graduates work for low-wages compared to the 1990s and they still find it harder to get good jobs since the Great Recession. Additionally, 36 percent said they wouldn’t have attended college at all if they knew its cost.
Laura Torres, a recent graduate in youth and community studies, said that she saved a lot of money by going to community college before coming to UT.
“The cost to live here and go to school here is so much more (than community college),” Torres said.
Noor AlAhmadi, a sociology senior, said that “I wish, (UT) would tell you that it’s okay to go to community college first — you can save a lot of money by doing that — you don’t have to go straight to university.”
This is not to say that the University does not provide enough knowledge about loans — during freshmen orientation, UT talks about the differences between unsubsidized and subsidized loans and asks students to graduate in four years to save up on loans and try to work part-time. This talk, however, is not enough to make students conscious about what they are getting into, and too late in the enrollment process for a student to make a plan.
The University should mention statistics, such as those mentioned above, to give students a more complete perspective of a college life. They should discuss alternatives to taking all the classes at UT, point out that students could take some classes from UT Extension that are, most of the times, cheaper than a full tuition and beneficial if a student wishes to take less than 12 hours and emphasize that students could test out of many courses if they know the content.
UT should further alert students online about job prospects that various UT majors have nation-wide and in comparison with other majors at UT. For example, McCombs School of Business has a very competitive application process, but Economics, (part of the College of Liberal Arts) has the second highest rate of receiving a job offer by graduation time nationally, after computer science. Therefore, it would be useful if UT identified, for example, where their Economics degree stands compared to a similar business degree. Further, it is not as simple as saying that STEM students are always better off — on the same list Biology and Environmental Sciences are far behind Sociology, Social Work and Political Science.
There are students who don’t make into UT the first time. They transfer credits from community colleges, mostly usually ACC. But other students who make it the first time might also want to consider that path. Either way, both types of students need to know the advantages and disadvantages of life in a four-year college degree.
Even though all these statistics might scare the students a bit, UT has the responsibility, as a great institution, to be as candid as possible with the students so they can choose the best path possible.
Batra is a computer science and rhetoric and writing junior from New Delhi, India. Follow her on Twitter @ratnikabatra.