Be well-rounded: Optimize your education

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    For years now, giving students a well-rounded education has been a national trend among colleges and universities.And with an ever-shrinking job market, it’s easy to see why.

    Every college student chooses a major area of study. When students graduate, they tend to search for jobs related to their major. But with more and more high school graduates going to college these days, every field gets increasingly crowded with potential employees holding bachelor’s degrees.

    How then do college graduates break into such crowded professional fields? Well, there are a number of ways to go about it.

    One way is to return to school to obtain a higher educational degree. In many fields, a bachelor’s degree is simply not enough to get a job. A master’s degree or even a doctorate is practically required for entry-level jobs in many fields, particularly those relating to the more traditional liberal arts, such as history, math, English, etc. In other fields, for example business, a higher degree might not be required to enter the work force but do help graduates get better jobs starting out, thus jump-starting their occupational upward momentum. This option, of course, requires a solid understanding of a variety of subjects simply because admission into graduate school necessitates knowledge of math, writing and many other subjects.

    Some students enter college and choose a major with the intention of going on to a professional training school. For example, many biology majors are on the premed track, meaning they intend to go to medical school somewhere. Similarly, students in a large variety of fields proceed to law school, and still other students go on to earn teaching certificates. This practice of getting another degree in a different – but usually still at least somewhat related – field is another way for graduates to find jobs. Naturally, pursuing another area of study like this requires a further broadening of academic horizons.

    Still another method of getting around the overcrowded job market is for students to broaden their educational horizons when they’re still working on their bachelor’s degrees. College graduates who know something about a variety of subjects other than their major can often find jobs in which they can use their unique combination of knowledge and skills. This can often be accomplished with minors or second majors.

    The bottom line connecting all of these options is this: Students need to make sure they have a well-rounded educational experience.

    So how should you go about ensuring this broad education? Well, there are also a few different ways to do that.

    First, even if your major doesn’t require it, get a minor, or even a second major. Doing so will help you come up with ways to put your skills and knowledge to use in ways other than how you’re taught in your basic major classes. And it might help if your minor or second major is very different from your first major, so that you can find a way to have one complement the other. For example, if your major is political science, you might try a business or economics minor, to work issues related to those fields into your work in politics. Or if you were an English or journalism major, perhaps a good course of action would be to find a specialty of knowledge that you can write about in journals, newspapers or magazines. Whatever your major, choosing the right minor or second major could help you find that niche you need in order to get a job.

    Another way to go about getting this well-rounded education is to simply take more courses outside both your major and your minor. You have an interest in psychology but don’t plan to go into the field? Always wanted to learn Portuguese? Go for it. Take some classes in those areas you always wanted to check out. Just because you don’t have any plans to use knowledge of those subject in your professional life doesn’t mean that it won’t prove useful somewhere down the line.

    Finally, you might try finding an organization on campus to get involved in, according to some of your interests. In addition to the various social benefits of belonging to a group, you will probably learn something from the experience. And it might even open your eyes to other areas of interest outside your major. For example, I have been involved in band since sixth grade, and in college that involvement has fueled a further interest in music. I now have three music classes other than band classes under my belt and plan to take one more next semester.

    All students whose majors fall under the Schieffer School of Journalism must take 65 hours of liberal arts, ensuring that they get at least somewhat of a well-rounded education. Perhaps other departments should do the same.

    In conclusion, whatever your major and whatever you plan to do with it, you should give other areas of study some attention. You never know how it might help you when you’re working toward your career. If you don’t know where to start, ask your academic adviser.

    Associate Editor Jarod Daily is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Keller.