I recently stumbled upon a Facebook post Sarah Palin had written while reflecting upon her daughter Willow's graduation from an academy that specializes in hair and skin. In it, she said the following:
"Young people should not be pressured into assuming that a college degree is the only path to employment today. It’s not. Some college degrees obviously lead to clear professions, like those in the medical and engineering fields, but that’s not the case with many of the liberal arts degrees young people today gravitate toward either because they aren’t sure what they want to do after college or because they’ve been led to believe that college life is a sort of rite of passage for any career. That might have been the case once, but the salary and career opportunities a liberal arts education alone can get you have been dramatically limited these days. It’s so sad to see young people holding expensive college diplomas that come with no practical job opportunities."
It struck me immediately, not only as a former undergraduate and graduate student who holds a B.A. and M.A. in Spanish literature, but also as a former teacher, student adviser, and academic dean. Before I proceed, would you mind taking a walk down memory lane with me?
I remember my first college meeting with my adviser like it was yesterday. I was seventeen, just about ready to start figuring myself out, and hoping to make up a semester schedule that would interest me and let me sleep until nine every morning. I also remember one of the first questions my adviser tossed my way: "So, what do you want to do with your life?"
What do I want to do with my life? I thought. I don't even know what I want to do for lunch.
The truth was that I had absolutely no idea. And the reason for that was that I hadn't taken the time to really think about it. I hadn't brainstormed my likes and dislikes. I hadn't chosen a school based on my interests. I hadn't researched relevant internship opportunities.
I hadn't done any of those things. Instead, I had listened to the many teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors along the way who had told me that I didn't need to figure any of that out just yet. They told me that I needn't worry because a solid liberal-arts degree was the key to success; it would make me a well-rounded, ideal candidate for just about any job. In fact, on the occasions that a particular trade did interest me--skin care, marriage counseling, writing greeting cards--I was told not to get "too narrow" in my thinking too early. The broader, the better, seemed to be the way to go. (Or so they told me.)
Jedediah Bila is an author, columnist, TV and radio personality, public speaker, and Fox News Contributor. Her book, OUTNUMBERED: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative, was published in May of 2011. Her columns have been published in/at Human Events, The Daily Caller, Newsmax, FoxNews.com, Breitbart.com, The Blaze, and AMAC's newsletter. Jedediah is a former high-school academic dean and adviser, and has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels.