By Heidi Harrell – Asst. Opinion editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. PatMcCrory’s proposed budget plans for the UNC school system will set the 17 universities and thousands of enrolled and potential students up for failure.
McCrory proposed to reduce funding to the UNC school system for the new fiscal year by $138.5 million – a 5.4 percent reduction from the previous year.
McCrory also said in a February radio interview a liberal arts education will not get students a job after graduation.
The governor needs to get his facts straight before the entire population packs up and moves somewhere else.
McCrory seems to have an idea that a liberal arts education is useless, does not prepare students for the job market and should not receive funding from the state.
Several published surveys suggest otherwise. A survey of 318 private sector companies and nonprofit organizations asked employers what they look for when hiring recent graduates.
Contrary to the governor’s belief, employers look for individuals trained in more than a specific field, a survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities showed.
In fact, four out of five employers in the survey said college graduates should have broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences. Furthermore, 93 percent of the surveyed employers agreed a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.
UNC Asheville may be a small college in the UNC system, but the broad range of classes offered at our liberal arts university not only prepare students for a job, but also for success with whatever job we land.
A separate survey further illustrates employers’ appreciation for liberal arts students. A 2012 survey by Millennial Branding and Experience Inc. surveyed 225 employers and discovered businesses seek liberal arts graduates nearly as much as engineers.
McCrory should pay attention to the evidence at hand, proving what businesses actually want, rather than solely determining what he believes businesses want.
If the North Carolina governor paid attention to these facts, he would not be so quick to further slash the UNC system’s budget, a persisting problem since 2008, or eliminate so-called unpopular or struggling degree programs.
The UNC school system needs support and praise for the well-rounded education provided to its students. The North Carolina governor seems to believe he knows what the future holds for college students, and evidently he sees that future in hands-on trades.
McCrory’s personal history may be prevent him from objectively deciding what would best serve North Carolina students.
McCrory graduated from Catawba College in Salisbury with a degree in education in 1978. McCrory worked in construction and for Duke Energy during the summers while pursuing his degree.
After receiving his teaching licensure, McCrory changed fields and continued his work with Duke Energy.
McCrory received a number of promotions through recruiting and training jobs, and retired 28 years later as a senior advisor of Duke Energy’s Business and Economic Development Group.
The governor’s history and success in a hands-on field worked well for him, but McCrory’s personal experience does not dictate what will best serve other North Carolina students.
McCrory advocates a higher education system in North Carolina that caters to careers in areas he recently claimed remain unfilled.
While the proposed higher-education plan may deliver what seem to be obvious benefits for the state –– for example, filling trade positions –– in order for students to find true success after graduation, the student must first feel passionate, or at the very least interested, in their pursued degree.
Eliminating certain curriculum simply because they are not popular or do not fill a void in the market seems incredibly shortsighted. Often, students pursue degrees in college, which they later decide to be wrong for them; McCrory is such a student.
If McCrory had not studied education at Catawba College, he may not have spent his summers working for Duke Energy and later learn he would rather continue his career with the largest electric power company in America than continuing to teach.
McCrory’s higher-education plans make it seem like students who study fields he pre-determined unnecessary not only waste their own time, but a waste of the state’s financial investments.
Instead, McCrory needs to acknowledge that students with a versatile education are the future, and sometimes, in order to gain their future, some students must struggle before they succeed.