The question of whether colleges do actually prepare students for successful careers has featured in many professional forums and for a long time. Researchers in this area offer conflicting conclusions depending on which side of the divide – the workplace or pure academics – they stand. Therefore, the more you read about the issue, the more intriguing it becomes.
However, it is a fact that too many students are graduating from colleges completely unprepared for the job market. This is notwithstanding the fact that colleges are supposed to act as the chamber that transforms students from green teens to qualified professionals.
When confronted with this important fact, many college professors are quick to exonerate their institutions from the problem. Indeed, most are quick to point out that while it is true that some colleges produce inferior graduates who only meet the minimum requirements to fit into their respective professions, there are institutions such as Harvard University, Oxford, and Cambridge, which have over the years developed a reputation for producing global leaders in most disciplines.
As the professors say, there is thus need for sincerity among the institutions of higher learning as to the quality of their instructors and training facilities. This would help prospective students to make informed decisions about the institution to enrol, and what to expect at the end of the training years.
Critical Thinking and Self-Drive
With an education system that rewards regurgitation at the expense of critical thinking and practical problem solving, it is no wonder that many of our graduates lack self-drive and the zeal for challenges. As such, you will find many “A” students struggling to fit in within the modern dynamic workplace where your job security is pegged on what you deliver.
Market Disconnect
This notwithstanding, college education has moulded many successful personalities, and continues to usher millions of qualified and well-rounded employees into the job market. An important challenge, however, has been the disconnect between the technologies and theories taught in class visa viz the real practice in the job market.
For instance, while the modern software development world is now dominated by visual programming platforms such as Microsoft Visual Studio, you will find some institutions of higher learning still teaching programming languages such as Pascal and Cobol, which powered systems in the 1980’s. Unaware of the modern market demands, the students will proudly send resumes to prospective employers indicating expertise in these old languages, and then sit back waiting for a favourable response!
In cases such as the above, the graduates will certainly leave college fully baked, but with the wrong ingredients for current market demands. This is what irks many employers, the fact that they have to re-train an already trained professional to bring him up to speed with business practices of the 21st Century. Such training takes both time and resources, and it is not unusual for the trainees to quit for better prospects after an employer has already spent so much in “upgrading” the graduate.
Market’s Input
“If indeed colleges are preparing graduates to join the job market, it is important that the job market has a say in the kind of skills required at the workplace. This should never be an exclusive reserve of pure academicians,” says Andrew Green, a HR professional with ArcadeResumes.com, an Oregon-based careers consulting and resume writing agency.
“College professors need practical industrial experience in order to remain updated with the latest market demands. Second, they need to accept the fact that most entry-level job openings are springing up more at the micro-enterprise level, as opposed to corporates, hence the need to tailor the college courses for this market too,” adds Green.
Good Prospects
According to the association of American Colleges and Universities, college education has multiple positive outcomes for those who pursue the degree with purpose, good guidance and hardwork. A college certificate remains essential for success in today’s competitive global economy; and is an investment in future success.
The association further states that although college education is expensive, it is clearly worth the investment where even worth going into at least some debt to achieve it. Nevertheless, students need to know that not all college degree programmes are equal; not all are designed to prepare them for long-term success. For this reason, students need to know more about what it actually takes to “make the most” of their investment.
For their part college educators need to know which educational practises and curricular pathways are most effective in preparing students for success over the long term, and, those pathways must be made much clearer to students and prospective students.
Nevertheless, good news is that the learning outcomes that best prepare students for success in their careers are those that also help students become responsible citizens and help them navigate their way through the challenging world. This is the challenge that colleges should live up to.

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