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Preparing Today’s Students For Tomorrow’s Jobs

Preparing Today’s Students For Tomorrow’s Jobs
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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.

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56 comments

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6:17PM PST on Dec 28, 2011

For example I have at least 12 years experience in IT, almost 11 years with the first company. That is three times as long as the traditional four-year stay in college.

6:15PM PST on Dec 28, 2011

One big thing. We have experience in the field and you recent grads are competing against us. You might be cheaper, but we are better.

6:12PM PST on Dec 28, 2011

I'd keep the "education" in college but I'd beef up the skills (esp computer skills) and add some experience (for free if necessary).

I'd like to work in the Federal government rating colleges and universities for their in-field employment statistics, which should be publicized, by major, in the Free Application Form for Student Aid and sorted in descending order by required education completed. .

Ouch. Blood and red ink will run.



6:40PM PDT on Sep 28, 2011

This is a ridiculously simple idea that could really make a difference. I'm not in college, but I know that there are many people who could benefit from a more relaxed approach. Thanks for posting!

11:41PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

I agree with Tysu J.

11:02AM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Given the extent to which Republican administrations have gutted spending on education at state and local levels, clearly the only future many American students have is picking crops.

7:13AM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Education for the Obama jobs -- Most that I have heard for future job creation is shovel-ready construction. One does not need a college ed for this type of job. Unless this type of thinking changes, one will not need an education to work. I hope it does change.

2:05PM PDT on Sep 11, 2011

And just what 'jobs' would those be? Learn to speak Chinese early, avoid the rush!

1:11PM PDT on Sep 11, 2011

As (relatively) recent graduate- the degree does not do a lot of good if the jobs simply are not there.

9:18PM PDT on Sep 10, 2011

Most intelligent observers believe the US is in for about ten more years of recession. That is enough time for business that needs to make a profit to find even more technological ways to reduce its greatest expense, labor.. By then the only likely jobs will be in producing more clever robots to replace the few remaining employees. Then, only the super rich will be able to buy anything produced with the few remaining resources. What happens to the rest of the overpopulation ? Your guess is as good as mine..

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