Whilst colleges, schools and universities can be a good investment for some people (e.g. aspiring doctors and lawyers), I feel that many graduates struggle with fundamental life skills after leaving schools and university. Universities in particular have been touted as places of higher learning, yet they fail to focus on some of the more fundamental subjects to help graduates deal with the real facts of life they will undoubtedly encounter. I believe that such institutions should teach graduates a whole range of life skills that will set them up for the skills they will need in daily life.
Am I qualified?
I am probably the worst person to be making recommendations on education given that I went through 5 schools in 30 months before leaving the education system altogether at the age of 16. I joined a Hi-Fi chain (these were retail stores selling vinyl record players, cassette tapes and the like – for those of you who don’t remember!) as a salesman and within a few years started my first company when I was 20. So I never got the chance to personally experience high school and university but as an observer, I have the following observations to make.
"English? Who needs that? I’m never going to England! -- Homer Simpson"
Unfortunately, many graduates have significant levels of debt and find it a challenge to get a well-paid job. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of basic personal finance, regardless of your profession. Many graduates have limited financial knowledge about important concepts such as budgeting and financial planning, loans and compound interest. Even basic accounting principles can be very useful. Especially important if you want to start your own business.
Risk taking and Critical Thinking are important life skills. Regrettably, many graduates try to learn for a test, instead of learning for personal enrichment. They don't realize that life doesn't give you a study guide or a cheat sheet to bring to the test. Life is very unpredictable and you must be creative to handle its curve balls. That’s where some training on entrepreneurship is very important. Taking calculated risks is part and parcel of effective entrepreneurship. Many small business created at college or universities have grown into mammoth corporations. Good examples are Facebook, Microsoft, Time Magazine, Yahoo and Google. Sadly, I could think of none that came out of the UK education system!
The status quo is not the only way to go
Students have been taught from youth that a university education is the only key to success, which makes them follow the status quo. Students need to realize that there are many alternatives to the status quo and that it is OK to be an entrepreneur. Society has conditioned students to take "safe paths" and to avoid failure. Due to this, students are led to think this way for the rest of their lives. They could end up in a stagnant job with little prospect of promotion when they could have had so much more to offer – what a waste!
Every person is a salesperson – regardless as to whether that is their profession or not - because there are many life situations that require selling skills such as dating, job interviewing or even trying to convince your friend where to have dinner. This type of training would teach common selling skills like active listening, creating trust, effective presentation, the importance of representing your company or your brand, handling rejection, managing objections, and of course, closing the sale!
Learning how to put together a convincing resume is important
A well laid out resume or CV is very important for the graduate looking for their first job. How to select which job is right for you is very important – the remainder of your career may depend on it! Colleges should have one class or at least mandatory workshops that teach interviewing skills. By including mock interviews and advice on how to put together a convincing Resume or CV would better prepare graduates for the real world.
Unfortunately, many college graduates fail to utilize these skills and make a poor first impression. Remember that old saying: You never get a second chance to make a first impression!