College or University – Which One Pays Off?
A recent study suggests that university grads don’t deserve to be the butt of jokes about making lattes and serving cappuccinos, as least so says the Council of Ontario Universities. Tired of being relegated to second best at finding their graduates in successful careers, they claim that Ontario university grads have the best chances of finding jobs with good wages and in their desired fields.
The negative press about university graduates lacking real-world skills has not been sitting well with the institutions who are fighting back to save their image. The 30-page “University Works” report paints a much more positive picture by asserting that their graduates are more recession-proof and earn higher salaries than those with any other type of education.
Max Blouw, president of Wilfrid Laurier University and chair of the Council of Ontario Universities, says “We’re pushing back against quite a number of articles and opinion pieces lately that characterize university education as less than successful preparation for the job market. You know the line about the grad asking, ‘Would you like a cappuccino with that?’ We’re bringing evidence to the table that university education pays off quite well, to counter some of the rhetoric we’re hearing about how well colleges prepare people for specific employment.”
The report puts the employment rate for students in 23 university disciplines at 90 per cent within the first two years of graduating, and in fields such as dentistry, pharmacy, forestry, veterinary medicine and theology, at 100 per cent. In general, it concludes that 73 per cent of university graduates are employed in fields “somewhat or closely related” to their chosen discipline within six months, compared to 66 per cent of community college grads.
And since earning a bigger paycheck is usually an incentive, the report highlights the findings that over the course of 40 years, university graduates earn approximately $915,840 more than college graduates and $1.4 million more than those with only a high school education. Blouw adds, “We’re not trying to be polarizing; colleges and universities have different visions and more and more students go from one to another, but we want to bring evidence to the table that a university education does prepare students quite well.”
Far from putting down the institutions, Ontario Colleges President Linda Franklin commends both forms of education, but says that debating over employment rates and comparing salaries is petty and unconstructive. Instead, she stresses the need for all post-secondary institutions to provide skills that employers need and says that more young people, whether university or high school grads, should include a college education as part of their training. “There’s been a 40 per cent increase in university graduates coming to college in the past five years, and the combination of what both systems offer is very powerful,” said Franklin. “We need to increase the pathways between our institutions, because we’re both doing great jobs.”
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