Some argue that the college degree is the new high school diploma while others argue that professional work experience is more important than a college degree. For many people higher education is believed to be unattainable because of the expected investment of time and/or cost.
With the evolution of technology over the years and the abundance of opportunities for online learning, what does college really teach us that we cannot learn on YouTube, Google, reading books, or in some other way?
College can prepare you for the real world. Here’s how:
- College prepares you to work with others. I always dreaded team projects in college. More often than not, I would find myself assigned to a group with students who did not complete their portion of the group assignment, missed class, and were often times difficult to work with. Guess what? This is the real world!
- College prepares you to communicate more effectively. College provides numerous opportunities to strengthen writing skills through writing assignments, speech classes, class presentations, group work, email communication, social media, and much more. Again, this is the real world!
- College prepares you to think. I don’t know if it was my philosophy, calculus, or statistics class, but my head hurt after completing these courses. After more than a decade, I will never remember the content of these classes. However, what I do remember are key characteristics that employers look for such as: the ability to think critically, the ability to analyze information, the ability to problem-solve, and the determination to not quit or give up when nothing made sense. Yes! Thinking is expected in the real world!
- College prepares you to attend and participate in meetings. College provides a safe environment to practice punctuality, excellent attendance, verbal communication, and note-taking skills in preparation for important meetings in the workplace. Meetings are a part of the real world!
- College prepares you to receive feedback. I loved when my college professors would write nice notes on my papers and encouraging words. On the other hand, my college professors often times got carried away with their red pen and shared valuable feedback on some of my written assignments. This critique allowed me the opportunity to receive feedback so I could improve. In the real world it’s important to listen and accept feedback from leaders, customers, and peers.
- College can build your confidence and self-esteem. College can provide opportunities to build confidence through asking questions aloud in class, being recognized for good work, and becoming more educated on a variety of subjects that otherwise you may have not studied. Employers need confident employees.
- College can help you learn money and time management skills. While going to college, I made a conscious effort to go without quite a few material things, sharing a bedroom with a roommate to reduce living costs, making the choice to delay owning a car, and delaying purchases that I would later be able to enjoy without jeopardizing my focus—education. I worked multiple jobs simultaneously while going to college. I learned to schedule my time effectively and to manage my limited financial resources. These lessons have continued to prove valuable nearly two decades later.
The commitment level towards student learning varies at the college level. The real commitment to education is achieved when students are determined to educate themselves through discipline and study.
Should parents and family members expect their children to go to college? Probably not. Should parents and family members expect to pay for their children’s education? Probably not. Is the structure and expectations of college for everyone? No. However, I believe a college education can prepare individuals to be successful in the workplace.