“My professor who told me about the internship said to tell anyone else at the [student news]paper if they wanted to apply. I didn’t tell them about it.”
A brazen and candid statement from a fellow intern at a major regional publication. Admittedly, I didn’t tell anyone else about the internship until I also procured it. This is a technique rising in popularity to ward off potential competitors. Students are withholding information and downright competing with peers within their major in order to gain an edge.
My resume is bursting with descriptors, pointedly bolded and italicized and printed on high-quality cardstock. But if you ask any English major at Drexel University the extent of my experience, their answers would be scanty. I’m intentionally ambiguous because I’m fiercely competitive.
The spreading-the-wealth mentality is simply not relevant today. Millennials are facing grim circumstances post-graduation. According to a study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, the unemployment rate of recent college graduates was 6.8% in 2012 (9.4% for humanities and liberal arts and 5.4% for both health and education).
With a not-so-promising outlook looming on the horizon, it’s no surprise rivalry normally reserved for entry-level positions is trickling down to the undergraduate set.
Competition is not limited to students of the humanities either. Take for instance, Nick Mengucci. I first met Mengucci while he was pursuing a nursing degree at James Madison University (JMU). Notably, the JMU bachelor’s of nursing program is not a direct-admit program. After completing 36 credits (including nursing prerequisites), maintaining above a 3.0 GPA and declaring a nursing major, students are merely considered for a spot in the program.
“Forget about making friends within my major,” he said. “By sophomore year, we’re all competing for the highest exam grade anyway.”
Mind you, 120 to 200 students apply each admission round for 90 spots. This purging process, while essential for a quality program, inherently breeds competition.
“It definitely fosters an uncomfortable atmosphere when you can only view our peers as potential spots in a program,” said Mengucci, who has since transferred to into a guaranteed four-year nursing program at Moravian University.
Even students pursuing majors that are constantly cycling in new talent can fall victim. At Ryder University, third-year education majors are sent in pairs to a local school district to shadow a “co-op” teacher.
“Other than student teaching, it’s the best way to get to know a school district. You meet the principal, get to know the teachers and staff, and any impression you can make is huge when it comes to interviews down the road. I can remember going out of my way to ask if any teacher in the school, not just my co-op, needed copies made, something laminated,” said Katie Zeck, a senior education major at Ryder.
“At the end of the semester, I went to Barnes & Noble, got my co-op teacher a $25 gift card and wrote this really heartfelt note … but one of my roommates was also in my ed[ucation] class that semester and was placed in the same school. When she asked what I was getting my co-op teacher, I just said I was writing a thank-you note.”
Type-A personalities and achievement-striving are anything but new. With post-graduate employment becoming a commodity, college degree programs are slowly becoming incubators for fierce competitiveness. Like it or not, the pressure is on, folks.
Powered by Facebook Comments