Posted by Katie Minnick
It’s the age-old question. Which is more valuable to potential employers: experience or education? With the rising prices of higher education, college isn’t feasible for many. For others, getting an education is much easier than finding real-world experience. Many see it as a black and white issue: you either get education or experience. In my opinion, you can have both.
In its 2010 Trends in College Pricing report, College Board found that the price of college increased in 2010-2011 by 7.9% for in-state students and 6% for out-of-state students. Despite the rising cost, there are benefits to higher education. Last July, one study found that the unemployment rate for college graduates was at a low 4.5%, while high school graduates had an unemployment rate of 10.1%. Many see college as a huge risk, one not worth taking. In 2009, the average college debt rose by 6% to $24,000.
At times I get discouraged and think that maybe college is just a big waste of my time. After all, only 20% of college graduates are currently working jobs that require the skills and knowledge they acquired in college. Some college dropouts are making more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime.
Despite these discouraging facts, I’m reminded that college teaches invaluable life skills that a normal 9-5 job can’t. I have been taught how to balance two jobs, five classes and a variety of extracurriculars, while trying to have a personal life and stay sane. I’ve learned how to live with someone I don’t like, manage my money and make hard decisions without the guidance of Mom and Dad. My class work has taught me the importance of integrity and ethics in journalism as well as basic skills I will need in the field.
Many journalism schools have been incorporating experience into their curriculums, either by having internships as a requirement or offering experience opportunities for students. Most, if not all, universities have campus publications such as newspapers or magazines that are student ran and produced. Other schools, such as New York University and the University of California-Berkeley, have partnerships with large media outlets, such as the New York Times, so that students can directly write and work for them. This is a win-win situation, as students get real-world experience and portfolio work with prestigious organizations, while the organizations gain workers.
What do you think? Is experience or education more valuable? If you had to choose one, which do you see as being more beneficial? Is it possible to have both and be successful in the professional world?