College students ill-prepared for real world experiences
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 08:10
Several thousand dollars are spent every year per student for tuition at A-State. But does A-State really prepare students for life after college?
“From an employment standpoint, I think ASU is doing an excellent job,” said Rhegan Wright, a freshman English major of Paragould. “Opportunities abound for students to improve their marketability as a potential employee, strengthen resumes and interviewing skills and learn to effectively network themselves.”
Wright said there are opportunities for students, but it is up to them to be proactive and take advantage of the resources available.
“They have to be willing to spend time at workshops, presentations and job fairs. There’s an entire department (Career Services) full of people who get paid to help students get a leg up in the job market and prepare them for entry level jobs after graduation,” Wright said.
A-State doesn’t have much responsibility to teach students some of these skills, Wright said.
“From a ‘life skills’ standpoint, I don’t really feel that it’s up to ASU to teach the majority of those skills that an adult in college should already have. College is about expanding on our K-12 education and becoming well-rounded individuals while gaining knowledge of a specific skill set that will land us jobs in the near future,” Wright said. “If we didn’t learn how to change a tire from our parents or a family member when we were 16, well, I’m sure there’s tutorial on YouTube we can watch on ASU’s Wi-Fi. That’s about the extent of their responsibility in this regard.”
As far as responsibility goes, Wright said it lies with the parents.
“The kinds of skills that are necessary to make it through the week are things that fall to the parents to teach, and quite frankly I feel that anyone competent enough to gain acceptance to a university should be competent and proactive enough to find a resource and teach themselves the skills their parents failed to. It’s a matter of responsibility and self-reliance,” Wright said. “On the whole, there are several things, like checking tire pressure, managing a bank account, that parents are responsible for teaching their children or that should be discussed in grade school.”
Although Wright said the scope of parenting should cover several of those “life skills,” she said there are things A-State could do to supplement for other skills students should have.
“I think that the university at least needs to offer lectures or workshops on skills like doing taxes, financing a vehicle or home, buying insurance, setting up retirement plans. These aren’t really common knowledge skills because they aren’t things that we have to deal with very often, but they require a lot of knowledge if one is to make sure that they aren’t being robbed blind,” Wright said. “I think these skills are the perfect things to teach incoming freshmen during their mandatory Making Connections class, along with current curriculum like writing resumes and learning to interview as a professional. Teaching these skills rather than spending money on poorly organized disaster simulations and extremely biased and liberal mandatory e-books (Zeitoun) would be a better use of students’ money and time.”
Wright said she polled her friends and thinks students would take practical life skills courses over things like home or car financing, financial budgeting, and taxes to name a few.
Matt Penny, a senior communications studies major of Jonesboro, said if college is an educational privilege, it should equip its students for life after graduation.
“I believe the university is doing a wonderful job at preparing my academic mind and scholastic skills for future endeavors in my career,” Penny said. “However, as a person who will soon operate outside the realm of academia, I do not feel fully prepared for the copious challenges and struggles of every-day living.”
Penny said he wishes A-State gave him an opportunity to be taught more life skills in addition to his chosen major and other course relevant material.
“Skills such as how to file taxes, how to manage credit cards, handling debts and financial loans, how to repair a car, how to start a business, how to play the stock market, how to buy a house, how to raise a child, how to become a well-informed citizen in election season, how to cook more than Ramen noodles, how to find jobs related to my degree, how to handle a job interview, how to write and improve my resume, and how to handle disaster situations,” Penny said.
Although parents do play a role in teaching their children how to cope with life after finishing their education, they may not solely possess that responsibility.
“I realize parents are often scapegoated into blame if a child lacks the normal life skills required by society, but if attending and paying for college is an educational privilege, I want the privilege of having various professionals teaching me the basics of how their craft operates in society,” Penny said. “I realize that neither parents nor the university can be asked to equip a person with everything they need to function in society, but I think having a life skills course at the university would be very helpful. Especially in the beginning years when many students either drop-out, need help feeling connected inside the university, or move off-campus to take on part-time jobs, apartment contracts, etc.
Penny said he wished the Making Connections class was focused on teaching material like how to handle future financial obstacles (credit cards, loans, debts, mortgages, taxes), how to monitor and improve self-health (handling emotional stress, how to build and maintain relationships), how to understand politics and social issues, and how to formulate and make your dreams come true (vocationally, personally, spiritually, emotionally, physically).