The Blue Banner’s View: #Students must keep focus, drive beyond graduation

By Grace Raper – graper@unca.edu – Editor-in-Chief | Nov. 19, 2014 |

As the calendar date for graduation grows closer and closer to the big day, seniors face the terrifying reality of entering the “real world.”

With horror stories about the economy and job market, the fear bubbling in minds of those walking across the stage on Dec. 13 is justifiable. Yet, they continue to walk anyway.

As of 2013, 7 percent of college graduates remained unemployed as compared to the 17 percent of high school graduates. The myth that higher education doesn’t pay off shouldn’t deter soon-to-be graduates from making their way in the world.

According to a study by Georgetown Public Policy Institute, the biggest factor for unemployment stems from a graduate’s choice of major. Hard sciences remain the top choice for employment after completing a college degree, with degrees in the arts hovering at a 9.8 percent unemployment rate.

The study also showed unemployment rates for graduates in education, engineering and health stayed lower due to a stable or growing industry or occupation.

Still, the market for those, like students at UNC Asheville, who received a liberal arts education, pays off in the long run.

A study published by Association of American Colleges & Universities explored how liberal arts students make up an important societal demographic, “…the extent to which degree holders in humanities and social sciences are flocking to a family of social services and education professions that may pay less well than some other fields, (e.g., engineering or business management), but that are necessary to the health of our communities and to the quality of our educational systems.”

Students graduating in December can’t let their fear of becoming another statistic scare them when the statistics can be warped by those trying to manipulate them in the first place.

The importance of a college education doesn’t just come with the piece of paper handed to you at graduation, but instead with the journey of enlightenment and self-discovery many young adults find themselves embarking on during their college years.

After graduating, young adults need to take a step back and realize that it is OK not to know what the next step is, whether it may be continuing their education at a higher level or entering the work force.

Instead, the real fear students should consider comes in the form of getting gridlocked in a dead end cycle because they were too afraid to take the next step at all.

The path of life provides plenty twists and turns, and while students in 2014 will graduate with more debt than ever before, they can’t allow themselves to lose focus of the goals they cultivated in college.

In the immortal words of Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, “It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Though the familiar halls and the comfort of a classroom no longer may fit into your life, the world still remains large and open for the taking. Graduates cannot let the fear of failing keep them from at least stepping out of their doors and discovering life beyond academics.

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