Jun 282005
Authors: Jennae Mendoza

Back in our more primitive days, man's quest was to acquire the basic necessities of food, shelter and water for survival. After a millennium of progress, fulfilling basic needs is an afterthought for most, instead more pressing needs can be found in a set of prerequisites.

The most obvious example is the thousands of students strolling around campus. All are moving toward separate buildings leading to separate paths of success that is the first step in achieving today's needs.

Is it merely a degree though that will earn a living and lead to a life of success? Or is it the grades behind the degree that measure our victory in the end? After conversing with dozens of CSU students, a few entrepreneurs, lawyers and business people, I have gathered a lot of feedback on what really matters.

Kyle Prawel, a senior business major, thinks it's the type of school or profession you're going into that's important.

"Regarding law school, grades are incredibly important," said Prawel, "but for the rest of the working world it doesn't seem to be. Employers care more about your ability to pick up on things and training you the way they want to. It's about how well you'll adapt and be able to learn in a corporate setting instead of a school."

Dave Fein reflects Kyle's view on the importance of the profession. As a lawyer, he believes hard work and good grades are equal to success. After six years of working in gas stations, he felt like a failure, and resolved to follow a path of effort and improvement.

For him, grades mirrored his hard work and achievement. For many though, the "who you know, not what you know" clich� rings true, with an emphasis on experience and a dominating attitude.

Bonner Gilmore graduated from college with a civil engineering degree and became a site manager for Pulte Homes – one of the largest home builders in the state.

"I had a 3.2 GPA and grades didn't affect my job at all," said Gilmore. "If you're going into a competitive market, they'll come into play. But what's important is if you have experience that the other guy doesn't. That is what will get you hired."

Andy Orr, founder and owner of Circulation Services, didn't even finish college. He took a job offer at a newspaper company in Chicago and formed his own business. He believes grades may help – but they're not a strong indicator of success.

Rachel Martinez, a fashion merchandising major, brings up the fact that some of the most successful people like Bill Gates, a dropout, or Bush and Kerry, C students, are now in high positions.

"The C student will go a lot farther in life than an A student," said Martinez, "because C students may have more difficult life challenges, like working and other experiences that override reading and writing papers."

Martinez says that the most important reason she attends CSU is the yearn for the piece of paper that will double her salary when she gets out. It has not been the experience and enlightenment that college originally offered.

This is the prevalent American belief – that the desire for a degree and not the desire to learn is ruling our society. With this progressing mentality, how will we stand against other nations? Can even 10 percent of the population name our political leaders, our past wars or point out where Bolivia is? Are we merely going through the motions of higher education, void of passion, simply because it's expected?

Will the detriment of students' indifferent attitude and reality-TV addiction be apparent in a few decades in comparison to China's fast-paced advancement? Is our ethnocentrism so intoxicating that our powerful nation is subtly sliding? With every other nation adapting to our language and imperialism as we adapt to none, should we consider them to be expanding beyond us? No doubt, most schools provide high-quality learning, but without the passion for knowledge, students also are included in the quandary.

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