College degree less valuable without ample experience

Vito Giannola

Today, going to college is a necessity for most high-school graduates. As the number of enrolled students increases, the value of a bachelor’s degree isn’t worth what it once was.

The university and the city both offer opportunities for students to gain career experience outside the classroom.

Students need to take hold of extra opportunities outside of the classroom that will add value to a degree.

Luckily, here at Northern Michigan University, students have many opportunities locally to gain experience outside of the classroom.

NMU and the City of Marquette have a unique relationship that works everyday to create a fruitful relationship that benefits both Marquette residents and students.

I met with some of the City Commission members and discussed the relationship NMU has with Marquette.

The commission has recognized where the city must go to secure a prosperous future for both the city and NMU.

“In today’s world, it is a race to react the fastest,” City Manager Vajda said. “You need to take steps get ahead and that’s what keeps things going.”

Getting ahead in today means students must take steps to compliment one’s college degree. This is usually done by obtaining experience in your field of study and broadening your horizons. This makes students more versatile and diverse, which in turn creates more opportunities for future NMU students. Civic engagement can be very important in developing one’s skills.

“Community engagement is an extremely valuable opportunity, as students at NMU are in the best position we can be in,” said Dr. Steven Nelson, associate professor of political science at NMU.

This engagement is needed to gain experience, contacts, friends and notions of reciprocity that you won’t gain by just going to class: these things add to the value of your degree.

Experience is just as important as a good GPA in today’s job market.

The city of Marquette hosts a plethora of opportunities for NMU students. Be it volunteering for the UP 200 dog-sled race or helping out with the Jazz festival in the Lower Harbor, students can gain volunteer hours while growing closer to their community. But there is more than volunteering.

The city commission’s goal is to make Marquette a place where students can continue their career after graduation. This in turn will create jobs and services opportunities for students.

As this idea develops, students have other opportunities to intern with the city’s administration, though local businesses may offer jobs that relate to a student’s degree.

The easiest and probably most common thing students get experience and develop social capital is through participation in school organizations.

Northern offers an extremely easy and systematic way of helping student clubs and organization start and develop into well-functioning or even politically-influential bodies.

There are over 300 student organizations that all offer unique experience, such as the Treemusketeers, Greek life, fishing club and even the Associated Students of Northern Michigan University.

Organizations offer a way for students to gain experience that can be beneficial for their career training or increase management skills. You can always start an organization if there isn’t one that offers the experience you are looking for. That is exactly what Adam Magnuson did, the president of Treemuskeeters.

“I learned a lot about organizing and management, while creating friendships, and I put it on every resume,” Magnuson said. All it takes to start a new organization is registration with the Center for Student Enrichment.

Currently about one-third of students are in enrolled Superior Edge, a nationally recognized program that is unique to NMU.

Students have the opportunity to gain recognition for a different number of civic engagement activities that are outside of the classroom. There are four edges — diversity, leadership, citizenship and real world — all promote different acquired skills.

These areas help students develop an understanding about the world around them. This program creates leaders while giving them precious insight into community building.

As a Superior Edge member, I find it extremely fulfilling to be part of Superior Edge program.

Perhaps the most important skills a person can develop outside of the classroom are learning various leadership skills. The ability to lead is genuine and highly sought after in the job market.

Fortunately enough, NMU has the Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) to help students develop as leaders.

SLFP is a nationally recognized two-year program that develops leadership skills through community involvement with a mentor — a community leader who acts as your adviser.

Over a two-year span, students take skill builder workshops and participate in activities that build leadership skills. After the first year, students create their own Community Service Internship (CSI), which gives students extremely unique and vital experience that enriches their career training.

Students should strongly consider enrolling in SLFP. But be prepared: only 60 people a year get accepted to participate, so keep up on your class work.

Getting a degree is a necessity, but as a college education becomes more common, degrees become less valuable.

Here at Northern, students can gain an edge by taking advantage of the many opportunities present both on and off campus.