Is college education forcing students to live in a bubble? A recent study suggests that newly minted college graduates feel unprepared for the realities of employment.
The traditional thinking is that college is where you develop your area of expertise, but that model may be outdated. According to a survey from Gallup and Strada, majority of graduates feel that they aren’t equipped with the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace. Most graduates feel that their college experience didn’t give them a great deal of know-how on workplace skills.
College education vs. the modern workplace
But it’s no wonder that graduates feel largely unprepared–many of them truly are. When you think about it, the brick and mortar college system is old, ancient even. It is not necessarily optimized for the 21st century workplace, so much so that most company hiring processes almost never emphasize on an applicant’s degree or major. They’re much more interested in skills and experiences.
It is true, however, that most employers still use a diploma as a crutch for identifying applicants who are fit for the job. In that sense, a college degree does give a leg up on the competition. But most fresh graduates soon reach a speed bump that waits in their paths. It’s the gap between the jobs they’ve secured and the skills they have thus far. Why? Because the college system is bizarrely detached from what should be the main objective, which is to prepare students to excel in the real world.
College education tends to center on theoretical learning, but lacks focus on real, tangible things you need to know. Luckily the chasm can be bridged by some added instruction, on the employer’s part, and earned experience, which is gained overtime. If colleges want to address this gap, they must evolve to better empower students to contribute to the workforce. Practical knowledge should be a central part of that equation.
There’s also a common refrain that the purpose of college isn’t to teach hard skills, but to prepare students for the social aspects of the workplace, that it’s a chance to practice dealing with other people in a more mature setting. Some people may even argue that it helps teach independence. But is that really a direct effect of being in a college setting, or is it something that comes naturally by virtue of aging?
What to do to close the skill gaps?
None of this is to say that a college education is pointless. It does expand intellectual horizons, allowing students to discover things, places, and people that you might never have otherwise. It just doesn’t do much to prepare them for the workplace and the real world. Why? College is part of the script that society gives us, and no one succeeds by plagiarizing the lives of their parents, peers and colleagues.
If college graduates want to shake off their feelings of uncertainty, they need to go beyond the curriculum their colleges had laid out, and take it upon themselves to improve in areas employers are noting deficiencies.