The Education Lie

Work smarter not harder. Get a degree so you can have a good job.

I will stick to what I know. I was a sports management undergrad, despite eventually getting a Masters in Business Mike-Rowe-5Administration. Like many kids I had dreams of running a big name sports franchise or Coaching a division 1 football team. As I got older and wiser, I quickly began to see not only the world of sports was a cold and dark business, but the world of higher education may be worse.

Consider this.There are 300+ Schools offering Sports Management Degrees. 1,606,000 students will graduate from college this year. Let’s just say 1% will be sports management degrees. That is 160,600 students in line for jobs. Roughly 138,700 people work in the spectator sports industry. How many new jobs are there for Sports management students? Not many. Now consider that number of graduates doubling and tripling in the next several years.

The problem isn’t that kids have dreams of achieving these goals. The problem is that Universities are flinging their doors open, marketing a makeshift “Sports management program” and telling kids to come learn how to run a sports franchise, or be an agent, or work in sports marketing, when in reality if they want to “work in sports” they will have to clean toilets in a stadium, sell popcorn, or sell tickets making minimum wage for the next 10 years before you get a big boy/girl salary.

If you have the support system to wait it out and you LOVE sports that much, I salute you. I played college sports, coached in college and even have had some semi-professional opportunities so I have spent a large majority of my life in sports. I get why people love sports. But here is what I need to tell you. The higher education system in this country is a business. They are trying to grow enrollment, get donors to their university, and make big things happen for their university so they can get grants, raises, funding, etc.

So when you are told to go get an education, you are being sold on an idealistic American dream that has drastically shifted from it’s turn of the century opportunity. Is education still very important? Yes. But the kind of education you receive is critical. You as a student must be wide-eyed and aware of what is being fed to you, because you have to pay for this education. Newsflash….it costs a lot. If the end doesn’t justify the means, you need to consider what you worksmartactually want in a career, what you can do for less than an experience, because paying off 100 grand in student loans would be kind of like prison.

Choose wisely. And to those in control of Higher Education….It is time for reform.


2 thoughts on “The Education Lie

  1. I believe your last paragraph is the most critical– students need to be “wide-eyed” and research savvy as they search for their degree programs. Higher Education is highly correlated with higher income; this is true, but when student loans are factored in, the ratio gets thrown. Students do need to keep in mind that not all Higher Education Institutions are equal. I currently work at a community college and we are very concerned with the well-being of our students. We have hundreds of programs in place to help them pay for school if they need assistance. We serve high risk populations, education them, and then place them back into the community armed with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. Nothing gives me more joy than to see a student I’ve worked with succeed against all odds. The research tells us that education plays a large role in success.

    My advice to students would be to research before attending– is the institution a for-profit agency? Public university? Not for-profit? Private college? What are their graduation rates? Are two-year technical programs offered? Most colleges even run 180 day follow-up surveys on past students’ employment status after graduation.

    Lesson of the day: Not all colleges are created equally. Research is key.

    Nice post, Adrian. Thanks for writing about education!

  2. You bring up information that a lot of people need to consider and this is a tough conversation to have. Thank you for talking about it, sharing your thoughts, and tagging me in FB! Is it okay to share my perspective as a sport management professor?! I think a lot of the issue stems from what is meant by the term “sport management”. Many people only define the term to include professional and college athletics. I have a broad term of the degree and include tourism, health and fitness, and sport products/equipment/apparel/etc. I don’t even talk about professional sports in my classes anymore because there are so few jobs in that area. (I admit that I am probably one of the only professors in the field that doesn’t talk a lot about pro sports)! Over the years my focus the health and fitness industry (and products that support it) has grown tremendously because that is where the jobs are and the job security. Our society is only getting more sedentary and heavier….unfortunately. As for the university as a business, I think it really depends on where you go to school, as Lindsey Batson mentioned. At MSU, we do not get rewarded for having more students, bringing in donors, or get raises based on those things. (But I have only worked at MSU, so I don’t know about other universities). I think that more employers are looking at a college degree more like a “check” on the list of expectations, but I think a degree is very important! There is much more emphasis on what people do in addition to their degree (internships, part-time jobs, volunteering). As you can see, this is a topic I could discuss for quite a long time!! I would love to hear what other people have to say about it! Thanks for starting the conversation about it!

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