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Does College Prepare You For Your Future?

Jaclyn Goldstein

Two weeks ago, we posed the following question to students at C.W. Post: “Did high school prepare you for college?”  This week, the Pioneer is posing the question “Does college prepare you for your future?”  Students attend college to attain a degree in a chosen field that they hope to one day establish a career in.  Typically, a college student takes four to six years to graduate, and after receiving their golden ticket that they have vigorously worked for, they encounter the real world.  Indeed, many already have jobs during college in order to support themselves and/or others but at the same time, there are many who have jobs unrelated to their major, or no job at all.  After just four years of college, “the real world” can seem daunting to some, especially with the economy the way it is.  For others, they feel more than ready and are eager to get their careers started.

One of the major aspects of life that college can have a profound impact on, both inside and outside of the classroom, is socializing.  At first, you may think of socializing as Facebook or talking with your friend over a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  While all of this is true, socializing is also the ability to communicate with one another.  No matter what your major is, communication will play a significant role in your career.  In fact, in order to even begin your career, you will more than likely have an interview that could be looked at as a test of your communication skills.  When asked her opinion on whether college prepares one for life, senior Management major, Emily Brenseke responded, “College teaches you how to socialize with people you don’t know, or wouldn’t normally go out of your way to talk to.  But academically, it’s just school.”  C.W. Post Criminal Justice graduate student, RJ Kuhn, voiced a similar view.  He said, “College prepared me for life by showing me how to be responsible by preparing for class and football on my own.  It also showed and taught me to network with people to broaden my horizons.”  Both Brenseke and Kuhn emphasized the importance of acquiring good communication skills for networking.  Although it is a sad truth, obtaining a job is often about who you know.  By communicating with others, you are expanding your connections, which can be very helpful in the future.   As they say, you should “never burn your bridges.”

Maria Jose is a graduate student at Post and also a Middle School Spanish teacher.  José holds a much different view.  She said, “After taking so many classes in Education and Spanish, when I started to work, it was mostly common sense and asking co-workers how to deal with student behavior.  Also, I wish I had taken low-level Spanish classes because in teaching Spanish to middle school students, I really did not need so many Spanish literature classes.  Did it prepare me?  Not really.”  José raises a valid point about the practicality of the classes that we are required to take.  Are most of our courses truly preparing us for our future careers?  In José’s case, the most basic of classes could have possibly prepared her for her career.  However, this is not to say many advanced courses are meaningless.  While it is true that in college we are expected to think at higher levels and we should be well versed in our field, perhaps we should not overlook the importance of practical skills such as communication or the fundamentals of our fields.

There is not one definition of what it means to be prepared for your future, or for your career.  Like everything, you will learn as you go.  The best advice is to take everything you learn in college, and apply it to your career.  College can only do so much in order to prepare you for the real world.  Sitting in class and listening passively to your professor lecture will most likely not benefit you.  Each class, in some way, can undeniably provide new insight that can be somehow applied to your future.  Although it may not be the most practical class for your career, it is up to the students to make the most of their classes.  With the unpleasant job market the way it currently is, we should take advantage of everything that college offers us to make ourselves more marketable.

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