For the past couple of weeks I’ve been going over resumes for an entry-level Electrical Engineering position. I am saddened and amused by what I’ve seen. These resumes have come from students at University of Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines as well as DeVry University.
For those who don’t know, University of Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines are relatively big technical schools with good engineering and science programs. They are well respected. DeVry is a chain of “vocational schools”, with 90+ campuses spread across the US and Canada. And DeVry is not well respected.
An Electrical Engineering student of a big school will spend their first two or three years taking “core classes”: math, science, etc. And it is not until their third year will they take any classes relevant to their EE degree. Even then, their EE classes are not quite to the nuts and bolts of electronics. The net result is that someone in their third year of working on their EE bachelors degree probably has not picked up a soldering iron, or can identify components on a circuit board. By the time they graduate they are not much better off.
DeVry students, on a whole, have a lot more practical, hands-on experience. They can solder. Know their basic electronic components. Etc. In terms of hitting the ground running, DeVry students are much better off than their big school counterparts.
Of course, DeVry students have a down side too. There are some very good students, and some very bad students. Some are “from the wrong side of the tracks”, and I mean that in a mental state kind of way– not a social class kind of way. But even these have more hand-on practical experience than the big school people.
As someone who is hiring, it’s a tough call on who to pick. In the short term, DeVry people are on average better. In the long term, maybe the big school students are better but there is certainly nothing in their resume that would indicate that. But either way, I definitely don’t think that DeVry deserves the stereotype that they have.
What makes me worried is that the cost of a college degree is super high, and getting higher. Several Colorado universities are raising their rates 20% this year! More and more employers are requiring a degree to even apply. Yet the knowledge learned in these schools is getting less and less relevant to the actual job market. This has got to stop. My prediction is that the college degree market is going to collapse once everyone wises up to the fact that we’re paying more and more for less and less. It might take 10 or 20 years, but it’ll happen.