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The Future of Education

It's always very interesting to me to see the directions that people go after college. I know several people who have degrees in Graphic Design and are now database administrators and administrative assistants. Others I know have degrees in Finance and are now Worship Pastors. An Art History major who's a full-time nanny, an Interior Design major who's a Campus Manager for a church, the list goes on an on.

This pattern could be indicative of many things. Perhaps the job market at the time didn't present any opportunities for the chosen field when graduation came. Maybe after 4 years of studying towards a degree in a particular topic, there was a realization that it really wasn't that enjoyable. However, I'm convinced that it correlates to the state of the education system. Not that it's necessarily broken, and certainly not that it's useless, but that it's due for some thoughtful reconsideration.

According to a study done by Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27 percent of college graduates are in a job that's related to their degree. Like many other people, I'm also in that whopping 73 percent slice of the pie - something I'm actually extremely thankful for. Having graduated with a degree in Sociology and Philosophy, I'm thrilled to have been able to pursue a career path in software development since college, and I intend to work hard at continuing that pursuit.

Does that mean that my college education was a waste of time or completely useless for me in my non-related field? Absolutely not! The one thing that I believe college is consistently useful for is cognitive thinking, in whatever form it's presented. Whether you're pursuing engineering, psychology, biology, etc., the important thing is that you are compelled to think. You are presented with problems that require solutions and you must solve them. There is, of course, always great value in that.

But in my case, college just came too early. I think it does for many people. Who knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives, or at least for the foreseeable future, when they're 18 years old? I certainly didn't! And the data would lead me to believe that somewhere around 73 percent of other graduated folks don't know either. In hindsight, it probably would have been best for me to take a few years off, explore some options, discover something that I really enjoy and then consider whether or not my career path required some amount of schooling.

So it begs to question, is college really necessary in it's current format? There have been several times over the past few years as I've sought to broaden my knowledge in development that I've considered going back to school for a degree in Computer Science. Whether that be in the form of graduate school or a second bout of undergraduate school was always undecided. Ultimately, I always decided against it because, among many other reasons, I wasn't convinced that the time and money I'd spend on those studies would produce tangible results that would be immediately applicable in my career.

This is what lead me to pursue the course I'm currently taking at The Iron Yard. The model of education, so to speak, seemed to make so much more sense. Not only would it have been tough to dedicate several years worth of time towards a supplementary degree but because of how quickly technology evolves, a good portion of what I would have learned at the beginning of my coursework would already be outdated by the time I finished. But here I am now 2 weeks into the 12 week academy at The Iron Yard and we've already covered the following:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Sass
  • Bourbon
  • Git/GitHub
  • Gulp.js
  • JavaScript
Obviously, some of these items have not been covered in great detail, but the point remains - 10 weeks from now we will be very comfortable with all of these elements and several more. All of these being skills that will be immediately usable, relevant, and up-to-speed with the current needs of the technology-minded workforce. It's quick, dirty, and effective - exactly what we need to be successful, no more, no less.

It seems to make sense to me that the educational system as a whole could make a shift in the same direction. If the incredibly large majority of graduates are not getting any use out of degree-specific classes, why shouldn't college just be the same general education for everybody? A time when you learn the most essential skill for any career path - cognitive thinking. Apart from that you can pursue very specific, intense programs for further education. I realize that this model doesn't seem to lend itself to every occupation, but as the advancement of technology in all fields (not just those specific to IT) begins to move faster and faster, the education system will have to adjust to faster cycles of learning to stay relevant in the real world.

As the world moves faster, we must move with it to stay competitive. Here's to the pursuit to never stop learning!


P.S. I'd love to hear some thoughts in the comments from others about the state/future of education.

Comments

  1. I think you're on track here that education has to evolve to match an ever-evolving world. But, I think it goes beyond higher ed to also K-12. What if there were more opportunities during school to research/explore career possibilities before college? I can't say that many would know what they want to do at 16, but you can start to narrow the field by ruling out what you know you won't want to do. Or what if short-term internships were required in a gap year between high school and college to help students start to figure out what they want to do. You are absolutely right that the education system, from K-12-higher ed needs to adjust...but I'm not all that hopeful that it will or even that it can because it is so bureaucratic. These are things I'm thinking about in the School of Ed, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A mandatory gap year seems like a great idea to me.

      Delete
  2. Jeffrey, do y know, how in our time in big education structure they share all education information between all courses? Almost all are using secure virtual data room, it helps to keep all info safe and well managed. Also, can write about it if y want.
    Thx for your blog! (:

    ReplyDelete

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