Students and colleges alike need to be held accountable

Students and colleges alike need to be held accountable

I’ve never seen Western New York so star-struck.

Buffalo isn’t typically a destination for celebrities or political leaders, but a couple weeks ago people from all over Western New York waited at intersections and highway exits just to get a glimpse of a bus.

The bus, though you couldn’t tell through the tinted glass, was carrying President Barack Obama. This visit, however, was much more significant than a typical visit from a high-profile guest.

Obama came to Buffalo to talk about fixing our nation’s education system, specifically the university system. His overall message was that college costs students too much money and that the current system for evaluating schools is not working.

These are certainly major problems. College tuitions have risen significantly faster than the median family income over the past few decades, leaving more students in higher debt after they leave college.

Adding to the problem is that with universities setting their own tuitions, there is little to no accountability. The current evaluation systems for colleges don’t take into account the education students receive, compared to the amount of debt they leave school with and the amount of money they make in their jobs after college.

These are undoubtedly significant problems. The system has gone unchecked for so long, and tuition has spiked, with no end in sight. But these aren’t the only problems.

The biggest issue facing the university system, and for that matter the job market among recent graduates, is a lack of accountability amongst students.

Many students come to college thinking that everything will be handed to them. They didn’t really have to work that hard in high school, so why should this be any different?

They sit in class for four (or more) years, and eventually graduate, once again expecting everything to be handed to them. “Of course I’ll get a job, I have a degree!”

As many of us (hopefully) know, this isn’t the case. Jobs are scarce, and recent graduates face an ever-growing population of applicants for the same number of positions.

Yet still, accountability is not stressed to students. Of course schools need to be held accountable, but what about the students? Why don’t they need to be proactive and fight for their futures?

They do, but in a society where everybody in our generation seems to have “only child syndrome,” nobody has the guts to stand up and tell them to be responsible.

So here is your wake up call: be accountable.

Don’t sit back and think that your 3.8 GPA will be good enough to get you a dream job after college. It won’t. Instead of sitting in your dorm room watching television every night, do something for your future.

Go out and join a club. Get an internship. Network with professionals in your desired field. These are the things that will land you a job after college.

We are all lucky to be in college and have this opportunity, even if the system is screwed up and we leave here in debt. So take advantage of it.

Nobody will hand you a degree or a job. You have to be accountable and work for it.

Use this new school year as a chance to get ahead of the curve. Get good grades, but don’t make that your only calling card.

Take advantage of this precious opportunity and run with it, unless you want to end up just another college student with a degree, a pile of debt, and no way to pay it off.

Chris Dierken can be reached by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter @cdierken.