Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Are College Graduates Ready For The Real World?

Ok, so over the past month or so, several of some great Twitter folks have been doing what they affectionately call a "Blog Off". I've been intrigued to join the mix for several weeks and have finally committed (see my official-looking badge below?)

*SIDENOTE: My post is based upon personal experience, observations (yes, opinion) and business experience.

Ok, so on to the topic of "Are College Graduates Ready for the Real World?". My response, sadly, is "It depends". Why you ask?

Well, it depends on how serious the student took their training. Did they view college merely as a party stage of life? Did mom and dad pay for it all with the student nary a care in the world? Did the student dig in and really study, really take this serious? Did the student research job availability research for after his/her graduation? Did said student seek out employment or internships? Wait...I'm asking questions and am supposed to be answering them.

First, let me be real honest for a moment. I graduated just about top in my class. I was excited to go to college and knew precisely what I wanted to do with my life. (I had wanted to be a lawyer since I was about 10.) I had researched my field and discovered that an Accounting degree was the best degree to enter law school with (good thing I was good at math and business). So, I busted butt in high school, even with the newborn that I had had just before senior year (life does have those curve balls, right?) and had a great support system and some scholarships. After the first year of college, reality struck that I couldn't pay for college and would need to get a full time job and put college on hold. So, no, I did not graduate from college, but I believe my real world experiences and lessons are more than capable of answering these questions (I believe).

Mostly, college grads are not truly ready for the real world. What classroom can prepare you for the various different positions out there? How could a college professor possibly know all of these details in order to teach them? The main reason for college to get the ball rolling. That is why many colleges require internships and the like. The hope there is that you'll intern with a company that may ask you to remain on staff, thus you've invested in your future employment and they have invested in a future employee. Make sense? We've actually hired an intern or two at my company (Lancaster County Timber Frames, Inc.). We've found that while the drafting courses helped to prepare the intern, we had to retrain them. This retraining was not based on the fact that they AutoCad/drafting courses they took were sub-par, but merely because we are highly customized with how we utilize the program (see previous mention about varied skills in various companies). But, had that employee (now here for almost 6 yrs) not went out on a limb to start the course and then ask for the internship, he may have either decided to abandon his degree or have went in a different direction.

One of the main points that I think is missed, though is that the question has been directed towards 20 something people. What about those people that choose to return to college in their 30's or 40's that have been working in the profession for many years and are finally returning to college to make it "official"? Are they prepared for the real world? Probably. I suppose there are some that still are fully prepared, but I think those students that take the course of reality first and then studies may just be more prepared and be able to put that college education to work for them faster - not to mention possibly appreciate it more. I think it really boils down to a maturity level that has been attained (and the fact that they've had to finance said education on their own and probably juggle it with full/part time work).

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the read for my first attempt at the #letsblogoff. I hope I won't be outlawed from future posts due to my ramblings *smiles*. And, I hope to be one of those "matured graduates" at some point in the future. But, for now, I'll enjoy my life lessons college...or is it, graduate of the school of hard knocks? I wouldn't exchange my kiddos for the world...everything I've learned from my school of hard knocks has helped me in my professional world.

Here are the other participants:
Sean Lintow @SLSConstruction
Paul Anater @paul_anater
Bob Borson @bobborson
Nick Lovelady @cupboards
Veronica Miller @modenus
Becky Shankle @ecomod
Tamara Dalton @tamarajdalton
Tim Elmore @timelmore
Rufus Dogg @dogwalkblog
Bonnie Harris @waxgirl333
Richard Holschuh @concretedetail
Tim Bogan @TimBogan
Hollie Holcombe @GreenRascal
Cindy FrewenWuellner @Urbanverse
Steve Mouzon @stevemouzon


Nick Lovelady said...

Great insight- It's been my experience, too that most young people aren't ready to be in college at 17-18 years old. Because of theat simple fact, the preparation they could receive in college is hampered by beer pong and football games. Nothing wrong with either, but the proof is in the older graduates. A mature college attendee brings so much to the table.

Enjoyed your post... lots!

veronika miller said...

Absolutely agree. I've stopped pushing my 22 year old about two years ago in the hopes that when she decides to go to college it will be because she wants to learn, not because I made her go.
great post, thank you :)

Amy Good said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. You know, I wonder if we get so caught up in status quo that we forget that it is about their future?

DogWalkBlog said...

Most kids are NOT ready to be in college at 18. My son (the same ham story kid :-) ) was flopping around after his second year, so I shipped him off for six months to my brother-in-law's pig farm in Denmark for 6 months. After slopping hogs and baling hay, he had a whole new focus on his life. And his art (BFA) starting showing passion whereas before he was just doing the work.

I think we burn kids out be preparing them for pre-school, then making them choose careers in HS and force them into "career paths" through college. The college experience should be about learning and education, not job training. We've missed the mark somewhere along the line.

Congrats on your first #letsblogoff! I hope it was fun for you and you will be become a regular

cindyfw said...

Amy: your story is touching. Life does throw many curveballs. I was an early architect, grad early, my own business early, always hurrying. Now know there are many paths thru life. Yours is a powerful story. have you found passion in the const industry? is it what you love now, or do you still wonder abt that law degree? I got my last degree at... hm... 51. first at 21. 30 yr difference. I loved, laughed and cried each phase. always trade offs. for a couple of decades I was on such a breakneck speed that I thought "I have no regrets." in reflection now, I realize the truth was I love my life and I might have loved those other lives too. We can only live today w/ great conviction. some kids are ready at 17 - I was. Some are not ready till 47 - me again. This age thing needs to go out the window, too many rules, no one best way. Believe now in life-long learning. thanks for yr thoughtful post. Cindy @urbanverse