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Money Mastermind After Hours: Today's Colleges Don't Prepare Grads for Workforce - Money Mastermind Show

Money Mastermind After Hours: Today’s Colleges Don’t Prepare Grads for Workforce

One of the realities of the Money Mastermind Show is that we could go on for hours discussing topics on our show. And, in fact, we often do.

After our last episode, on whether or not it’s worth it rack up a ton of debt for a four-year degree, we stayed on the Hangout and talked about some of the realities of the college situation.

Someone brought up the fact that, not only can the wrong degree at the wrong school be devastatingly expensive, but it might not even prepare you for the workforce. A Gallup-Lumina Foundation Report recently discovered that most business leaders feel that college grads are unprepared for the workforce. Indeed, only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agreed that today’s grads are ready for employment. Contrast that with higher education admins who think that they are turning out grads ready to take on the rigors of the workplace.

So, why are colleges and universities in America so poor at turning out work-ready grads?

The answer might lie in the way we do things at the university level.

college education

Can a 1700s-Style Education Prepare Today’s Grads for the “Real World”?

Among the issues with today’s university system is that it’s still very rooted in a model used in the 1700s. During that time, you attended lectures as you wished, and were responsible for the information when it came time for examination. You received a broad education, based more on ideas and arts, than on developing professional skills (unless, of course, you did something professional, like law).

For the most part, university education was about “keeping the terms.” That style of education doesn’t exactly translate to today’s world, yet we’re still sitting in large lecture halls listening to someone go on and on about a subject. There are few classes that actually promote discussion and interaction; you often have to wait until you get to the graduate level for that sort of education. Colleges at the undergrad level aren’t providing the things employers want.

It appears that the 1700s-style education isn’t doing it for business leaders. Instead, they want practical application (which you can get with a good internship in some cases).The way college is set up today might not be practical for the current — and future — job market.

Alternatives to College

We also delved a little more into alternatives to college. We talked some more about trade school and the idea of developing a marketable skill, but we also talked about starting a business. (And you can learn a trade, like electrician or plumber, and start your own business for maximum results.)

So often, it’s possible to take classes from top-ranked universities free of charge. In fact, schools like MIT, Berkeley, and Harvard — and even my local Utah State University — offer courses for free. You can find the stuff taught at many colleges at iTunes U. This is a great opportunity for you to get a little extra knowledge. You won’t get a college degree, and your auditing of an open courseware class won’t provide you with any credits, but if you’re looking for the knowledge, that won’t matter.

This is where the business comes in. You can start a business without getting a four-year degree, and be successful. Take a few open courseware classes to bulk up your knowledge, and you can get what you need at minimal cost. No need to take on tens of thousands of dollars in student debt to start a successful side business (or even a full-time business).

Thanks to technology, there are a number of choices available to everyone. College is supposed to be designed to prepare you to work for someone else, but there is increasing evidence that it doesn’t even do that. As a result, it might make more sense for you to look for ways to be successful without attending college.

What do you think? Does today’s system of higher education still work to encourage success?

2 Responses to Money Mastermind After Hours: Today’s Colleges Don’t Prepare Grads for Workforce

  1. First I would agree that college is not for everyone. That said I think that many folks look at college like a trade school. I am the father of two college grads (one with a BFA with an emphasis in sculpture who is working as a web designer/marketer and one with a dual major in sociology and religion who is now in law school). Additionally I have a rising college senior who is a communications major, and a paid intern in his D1 school’s athletic department. There was never a question as to whether our kids would attend college and we have never pushed them as far as their major, etc. College trains kids in critical thinking, interpersonal skills and I’ve seen stats depicting the lifetime earnings disparity between college grads and non-college grads. A lot of it is based on what your child does with his/her college experience during and after school, but we feel the education is well worth it.

    • I think you make some great points Roger, and the statistics seem to bear out what you’re saying. But I also think a high school student needs to really think about what it is they want to do and what they expect to get out of college. There are options out there besides a 4 year university degree that can work great.

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