Editorial: Does Reinhardt prepare students for the future? Seniors and Alumni weigh in.
By: Joseph Javits and Danielle Christopher
Do you ever walk around campus and think to yourself, “Is Reinhardt University truly preparing me for the outside professional world?” Do you feel that Reinhardt has prepared you to become a leader?
According to educationdata.org, as of August 9, 2021, only 41% of college students enrolled in a four-year institution will graduate on-time, with 60% of graduates taking over six years to complete their degrees. The track record for community colleges is even worse, with less than 20% of community college students earning an Associate’s degree or certificate. Although graduation rates vary from institution to institution, with some boasting 90% graduation rates all the way down to a measly 10%, Reinhardt University caps out with a 36% graduation rate as of 2020—with 41% of those students transferring, 21% dropping out, and 37% taking eight years or less to graduate. Statistics like this can leave students wondering: for a school with a 98% acceptance rate, why is it that so many students don’t complete their degrees? And for those who do, do students feel as though Reinhardt has prepared them for life outside of school?
We asked a few of our seniors and two alumni whether Reinhardt set them up for success after graduation and got some tremendous insight. Current Senior Luca Fahling feels Reinhardt has indeed prepared him for professional life. “I feel like my teachers have helped me to be ready for the professional world but the classes are not really related to my dream job which makes it hard for me to get the knowledge I need. On the other side, I got a look into different fields of sports which could help me in the future,” he said.
We also asked him whether Reinhardt has transformed him into a leader. “Yes I believe Reinhardt helped me to improve my leadership skills and motivation to lead because I had some classes which focused on leading, but I’m a leader in general and I like to be a role model for younger people and even people the same age as me. I’ve been through a lot in my life and I have some experience which I like to share with younger players. I kind of take them under my wing.” Fahling proceeded to tell us that he is a resident assistant on campus and that experience has specifically developed his leadership skills. “In conclusion, yes, I think Reinhardt has helped me to become a better leader but Reinhardt itself didn’t make me a leader. I already had that mentality but I needed people and classes around me to become a better person and leader. That is what Reinhardt has provided me.”
We asked former Reinhardt student, Tori Smith, who graduated this past year whether Reinhardt has prepared her for a professional work environment. “Yes, because when I was studying my major I learned a lot of new information that really helped me figure out what I wanted to do in the future as my dream job. With all of their helpful resources and the people there, I wouldn’t have figured it out. Also, not just the education helped me be professional but also being an RA and being part of the Reinhardt Cheerleading squad and being part of the university made me who I am today,” she said. Smith concluded, “I’m so happy and grateful that I went to RU to find out who I wanted to be in the real world.”
Graduating with a Sports Studies Degree from Reinhardt in 2021 at the height of COVID-19, as well as being a collegiate baseball player for four years, presented some challenges for Alex Watkins. When asked if he felt Reinhardt prepared him for a career outside of college, Watkins spoke mostly about his athletic career at Reinhardt. “Yes, Reinhardt prepared me for life, but not in the traditional sense. I attended Reinhardt University to continue my baseball career and work towards a chance at the professional level. While I was there the coaches and athletic department provided me with a phenomenal environment to progress my game and skill level.” Watkins went on to explain, “I’ve known what my life goals are for a while now, and I firmly believe when someone determines their goals, they need to educate themselves to help achieve them. I also believe that people falsely associate education with schooling. The education that I was interested in and what was going to benefit my life was not going to come from a textbook or lecture. Instead, my learning came from a field and weight room. A college classroom is a great place to learn how to be a doctor or lawyer, but it wasn’t going to help me in the life I wanted.” Watkins has gone on to play professional baseball for the New Jersey Jackals.
Students that haven’t played sports at Reinhardt throughout their years seem to have a different response to feeling prepared for life after college. Reinhardt senior Jacki Inman, who will be graduating with a degree in computer science this Spring 2022, has been on a five-year journey at Reinhardt. Beginning her collegiate schooling as a biology major and switching to computer science, Inman said she feels as though Reinhardt has not prepared her in some ways but has prepared her well in other ways. “Reinhardt, in my opinion, is too easy in some aspects where it almost doesn’t feel like a university and I feel as though I’m back in high school. I am not saying that it is a bad thing and I wish classes were way harder than they are, but sometimes I feel as though I am being under-prepared, especially in a field where I will so heavily need to rely on my schooling.” Inman continued, “Reinhardt is such a unique place because I know my professors so well and they know me. We have been together for five years now seeing the same faces every single week. Sometimes I just wish that I felt a little more educated rather than feeling like I am scraping by with the bare minimum. You hear about all these universities specializing in certain programs and it being rigorous while creating extremely successful alumni but Reinhardt has never boasted a certain program but rather sports being the focus and draw to Reinhardt University.” Inman is excited to graduate and already has an internship lined up upon graduation at a marketing firm.
Despite the differences of opinion among seniors, Reinhardt University provides a multitude of resources to propel students toward success. In regards to preparedness for the professional world, we do think the school needs to step up their game a tad when it comes to which classes students should be taking and in which order. Students should be taking classes in alliance with their dream job and we personally feel that if universities implemented that approach, students would be happier, less stressed, and more confident about their major.