By Rep. Justin Chenette as featured in the Courier newspaper
What costs sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, puts young people in debt, all to get “qualified” for a job? You might have guessed it – college.
This past month I graduated with a B.S. in broadcasting and minors in political science and professional multimedia communications. While the road here was difficult, especially having to campaign for public office while attending college in Vermont, I feel relieved I have a little piece of paper to show for it. This piece of paper is supposed to validate my background, skill set and professional qualifications for a job I apply for within my field.
As was the case when I obtained my Associate Degree back in the spring 2011, nothing has changed much. I still have the same level of opportunities and number of projects I undertake. No one respects me more or less with a degree. It is almost as if I could be where I am today without it.
I chose to earn a degree with the sole purpose of being prepared for the everyday challenges of a newsroom. Throughout my college experience, I reported, produced and anchored a live daily 5:30 newscast to around 10,000 people in a region of 14 towns. This experience of listening to other people and telling their stories through an unbiased lens has helped me immensely in serving the greater good of this community. Not every program is as hands on as mine was. Some attend college without a clear vision of what they want, major in the wrong area and end up doing a job without the potential for a career.
Make no mistake though, I would be the first person to advocate for kids to go to college if their field requires it, but I fundamentally believe we as a society need to take a hard look at our education system, not just K-12, but post secondary as well, to see what is working and not working. There were many great things I learned in college, from the basics of our government system to how to report for TV on a tight daily deadline. But it’s not for everyone and it should be encouraged that high school students find the path that best suits their life’s goals, aspirations and interests.
We have to help students discover those things as early on as possible through hands-on experiential learning that takes students outside the classroom to see how the concepts they are learning inside the classroom apply to the real world. It is through this type of system that students can discover their passions on the road to their professional futures.
Justin Chenette is the state representative for district 134 in Saco. You can get legislative updates about the work of the 126th Legislature at www.justinchenette.com, Facebook.com/justinforsaco, and Twitter.com/ justinchenette.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco