In ‘It’s Not About You’, D. Brooks claims that universities and colleges do not adequately prepare their students for life after graduation.
College is with no doubt an important phase in one’s academic background, as it significantly helps promote advanced applicable skills in the corporate world that would otherwise not be learned in any other stage. However, it does not always result in the best output in terms of employability in the corporate world. It is the role of tertiary institutions to prepare students with basic knowledge and understanding of a concept, to offer the required skills in a specific field of interest. A common issue in most colleges today is the lack of exposure of the students to the corporate world that leaves them with a few options when it comes to applying what is taught to the corporate world. Colleges raise students with one set of navigational skills, while the corporate world requires different skills that these students have to figure out on their own. It is universal knowledge that colleges play a crucial role in shaping students for a better future, but there is usually a knowledge gap between what students obtain at college and what they are required to offer in the corporate world.
Academic qualification is usually a reflection of socioeconomic status and demographic variables. Academic grades hardly reflect an individual’s intellectual performance. “…parents with rich cultural capital are more aware of the rules of schools, invest more cultural resources, pay more attention to cultivate the children’s educational aspiration and interest, help children with school curriculum, and enable them to perform in academics outstandingly”, (Li & Qiu, 2018, p. 3). With much of academic achievements and the ability to afford tertiary education left on socioeconomic status, colleges are less capable of fixing inflexible behaviors amongst the students. College admissions are experiencing surges of applicants from well-established families, while tertiary education becomes more and more of a norm than a stage in an individual’s intellectual growth. The impact of this is an increase in the number of graduates in the corporate world, who are disinterested in learning and developing their soft skills that are beneficial to society and potential employers.
Most colleges are less inclined in offering soft skills beyond the normal curriculum, which leaves most parts of this crucial knowledge to individuals who can afford it from private workshops, seminars, and coaches. This is triggered by the rise in the number of students in higher education institutions, decreasing the ratio of lecturers to students. Practical skills and other skills that are taught by professors and tutors indirectly while interacting with students remains unachievable in the current densely populated colleges. This even translates to the institution programs intended to offer additional skills to students before their graduation, such as industrial attachments and internships. “College students are raised in an environment that demands one set of navigational skills, and they are then cast out into a different environment requiring a different set of skills, which they have to figure out on their own”, (“It’s not about you,” 2011). When an organization intends to hire a graduate, it rarely focuses on their academic qualifications. Rather, the soft skills that are probably not taught in the class, play a key role in deciding who to choose between hundreds of applicants for that single role advertised. Colleges with graduates who have access to soft skills record high employability rates, and such candidates usually have a low turnover rate as their performance is usually high at the workplace.
The rise in private colleges and highly regulated public colleges have rigid curricular leaving professors and trainers with less control on how to help their students, compromising the very reason that makes most students join colleges. After college, graduates return to society and communities where success is rarely dependent on academic qualifications. Without a properly drilled knowledge of the outside world with soft skills that can only be taught out of the class, a high percentage of graduates lose hope and move on with different aspirations. “Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly (“It’s not about you,” 2011). Without proper skills, graduates remain with unachieved dreams for years as they find new problems to deal with. Some get through these problems while others are shaped by the problems becoming something different than what the college education should have led made them.
The number of students enrolling in college education is rising annually, with an exponential increase in private institutions purporting to offer helpful education. The cost of higher education does not decrease, rather, it becomes even more expensive for some to access college education in developing as well as developed countries. Limited jobs in the market and a higher number of graduates will increase competition, and result in more demand for a college education. However, the socioeconomic status will remain at the core of factors determining educational success. More changes will be required in the college curriculum to allow students to access soft skills, and expose them to the corporate world earlier. Other than this, there is a danger of increasingly experiencing a rise in graduates who are less prepared to navigate the corporate world. The gap between a college education and what the corporate world requires graduates has to reduce to safeguard the importance of college education in our country.
It’s not about you. (2011, May 31). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/31/opinion/31brooks.html
Li, Z., & Qiu, Z. (2018). How does family background affect children’s educational achievement? Evidence from contemporary China. The Journal of Chinese Sociology, 5(1). doi:10.1186/s40711-018-0083-8
What do employers want from Canadian higher education? (2015, October 15). Retrieved from https://www.univcan.ca/media-room/media-releases/what-do-employers-want-from-canadian-higher-education/