As someone who has been out of school now for way to many years to count, an observation at work one day hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to pose this question to myself, my colleagues, and management as a whole – What are the colleges teaching kids these days? Why are so many young adults graduating from colleges and universities with overblown, exaggerated expectations?
These questions arose from an experience my department had with a young adult who was hired for a temporary assignment, which was to last the summer of 2005. The story began one bright, sunny, summer day. The day started off very well, I managed to leave the house early, to my delight, traffic was light getting to work and I found a parking space close to the building. As I like to say, the sun, moon, and stars all aligned properly to get me to work quickly.
It was a lovely July morning and I was waiting at the bank of elevators for one to arrive. As the doors opened from one of the elevators, a young woman stormed out nearly knocking me over and slammed her way out the front doors. I recognized the young woman as being the temp who started the day prior. I didn’t think much of the episode and went on to my floor and department. The place was aflutter with nervous energy; people were gathered in small groups talking about the episode that just happened. I asked the manager what was going on.
It seemed that the temp had a fit and quit in a rather vocal way. As my manager described the morning to me, she had approached the temp that morning to ask about handling some filing for the department only to be told that was not something the she knew how to do. Really? My manager then asked if the temp knew MS Word or Excel. Again, the answer was NO. Finally, my manager asked the temp, what did she know how to do? The temp stated that she knew how to text quickly, how to maneuver around the internet, and that was all. Needless to say, my manager became very angry and called the placement agency. The temp was then asked to go home. Prior to leaving, this young woman proceeded to have a fit, demanded to be paid for the entire day, and cursed each person in the department. It was completely unprofessional behavior from a second year college student.
It was at that moment that a light bulb went off in my head and an idea was born. I went home that night and called my college age sister and started asking questions. Did the school teach them how to balance a check book or monitor their bank accounts? Did the school impress on them the importance of internships throughout their schooling? Did the school teach them how to prioritize or just proper time management skills? Did the schools teach them basic word processing skills or basic A+ skills? Those were just a few of the many questions I had. The responses blew my mind. Why are math and English mandatory for graduation but not finance or accounting? Oh, sure, both are mandatory when a student is a business, finance, or accounting major. But, what about those students that are arts majors, or science majors? Many schools do not make Finance 101 or Accounting 101 a core subject, necessary for graduation. It should be! A student should know how to function in a MS Word document or how to create a simple spreadsheet.
However, what disturbed me the most was the lack of significance that was placed on internships. I ask the readers this question – What could be more important than to intern at a company in your field of study, throughout your time at school? – The response I received from every CEO, CFO, CIO, President, and Vice President I interviewed was simple – it’s more important than that summer job at the local ice cream parlor.
The individuals who run corporations want to see the young people working while in school, acquiring the “on-the-job” training that is vital to any position they may get after graduation. While it is important, and wonderful, to graduate with a 4.0 average, in the long run it means very little, if anything at all. However, to see someone in a finance major interning their freshman summer for Ernst & Young and then each break throughout their time in college, that could potentially get them not only a job right after graduating, but a good job, perhaps even a low level management spot.
These colleges and universities promise our young adults the world. They fall short of guaranteeing management positions right after graduation. That is completely unrealistic. As many young adults have complained to me for years, the level of disappointment is enormous. They feel let down by their schools and by those they looked up to and trusted. So many people graduate from college with enormous tuition bills to repay but not a job in sight. Of course, if the schools bothered to teach them useful things such as how not to fall prey to “credit card traps” or mandated interning from freshman year, those issues would diminish significantly. I call out to all schools from the high schools to the colleges and universities and ask them to take some responsibility and teach our young adults the necessities of life. AND, I beg of the schools make finance or accounting a mandatory part of graduation.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Ellie R. I am a certified Paralegal, with a background in Banking, Securities, Real Estate and Human Resources. I have spent many years tutoring college age students in various subjects up to and including master level human resource subjects. I am also a lifelong psychic and psychic reader.