Classes have been in session at the college where I teach for just over a week. I’ve already talked to a freshman planning his courses for the next four years (his aim: medical school) and a senior about how to start applying to graduate school (take the GRE first? which programs? should she get work experience first?). What happens after college is very much on students’ minds — leading me to ask myself, are we doing enough to help our students get to where they dream of being?
According to Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, more than half of the the nearly 50 million jobs expected to be created by 2018 will require a postsecondary credential. Jeffery Selingo, editorial director of the Chronicle For Higher Education, offers some suggestions for how colleges and universities could better prepare students “to succeed in jobs that have yet to be created,” by taking a hard look at the majors they offer and being more upfront about what students do after graduation.
Colleges, says Selingo, need to do some hard thinking about the majors offered to students and about advising students about their majors. In particular, they should do the opposite of what many schools currently do, which is to create new majors and programs in the hopes of attracting more students. Says Selingo:
Colleges are great at creating new programs in response to growth areas in the economy, but not so good at eliminating those programs when demand falls. And in a dynamic economy, it actually seems shortsighted to respond to every new hot job by building an expensive new academic program rather than offer gateway majors that help students learn how to learn for the jobs that don’t yet exist.
Colleges need to do more to help students pick a major and recognize that “most 18-year-olds have no idea what they want to be when they grow up.” As Selingo says, too often students are forced, or feel forced, (by administrators wanting to make sure every student has some “official” idea of what they are studying as early as possible) to pick a major even before they’ve had one college class.
Photo by pjohnkeane
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