Myth #10

Myth #10: Your classes will help you figure out what you want to do for a living

Reality: What you learn in a classroom is not the same as what you do once you enter the workforce. It’s important to know that while you might find a class interesting, it’s important to understand where you envision working.

A college degree helps with career advancement. It’s a known fact that higher education opens up new job opportunities and increases your earning potential. But on the flip side, colleges fail when it comes to providing students with an accurate understanding of the working world, such as what a specific career path or role entails or what industry knowledge is critical to thrive in specific roles.

In fact, a study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that 60% of recent graduates aren't adequately prepared for the workforce.

The discrepancy between what undergraduates learn in school and what is expected of entry-level employees is largely caused by the lack of relevant experience college students gain through sitting in the classroom.

Many recent graduates find it difficult to translate their English, History or Economics degree into a career. What you learn in a classroom isn’t the same as what you do once you enter the workforce. Rarely will you be asked to analyze the meaning of a text or assigned a worksheet of math problems. However, the fundamental aspects of these exercises will help advance your career.

Unfortunately, most colleges and universities fail to teach students how to transfer these foundational skills to the workforce. Employers are looking for more than just a college degree these days, and this can come as a big shock to recent graduates, many of whom assume an undergraduate degree ensured a job after college.

According to a Gallup report by Jaimie Fancis and Zac Auteur, only 35% of college students feel they are prepared for the workforce.

Students don’t understand how to apply the skills learned in the classroom to entry level jobs, mainly because most colleges and universities fail to provide students with this knowledge. As a result, many students are unable to market themselves as desirable employees who can add value to a company. This blemish in higher education results in over half of all recent graduates being either unemployed or underemployed.

This gap is largely caused by the emphasis on theoretical learning in colleges and universities. An English major, for example, can easily write a succinct and enticing ten page paper on a novel they are reading in class, but may find it much more difficult to apply this skill to a legitimate career.

When choosing a major, it’s important to consider what skills and experiences you hope to get out of a particular educational path. If you are interested in pursuing a job in advertising, a degree in English can help teach you how to write persuasively. This will help to direct your studies as an undergraduate and will allow you to begin to build a portfolio of relevant writing samples that might help you stand out among other applicants.

However, the most efficient way to bridge the gap between what is taught in the classroom and what is expected from employers is through hands-on experience. Internships stand as one of the best ways to gain essential industry knowledge. They give students a leg up in the hiring process as well as offer an opportunity for students to apply the knowledge learned as an undergraduate to the workplace.

What classes teach students vs what they won't teach students


This essential aspect of an internship prepares students for the workforce by gently introducing them to the working world of professionals. Students who partake in internship programs are introduced to critical soft skills such as adaptability, responsibility and time management. Additionally, students get the unique opportunity to explore a legitimate career path for a short period of time without having to commit to anything long term.

Many colleges and universities offer college credit for internships and this is a great resource every student should take advantage of. This unique opportunity allows students to fill the gaps between what they find interesting and what they may want to do after graduation.

An internship can fill the missing gaps between an undergraduate education and what is expected in the professional workforce. This work experience can serve as an invaluable point as it shows students first hand the role of a specific job and can help students to make an informed decision about what they hope to do after graduation.

Gallup and Strada Education released a study showing that half of the adults in America would either change their degree level, field of study or higher education institution.

Many of this regret could have been avoided through internship experiences that introduce students to the professional world. This would have helped students to understand exactly what they want and don’t want in a job.

Similarly, many college campuses provide resources that compliments classroom learning. Speaker series, networking events, career counseling and special classes dedicated to teaching software such as the Adobe Suite or Microsoft applications may be available depending on your school.

If you don’t know what resources your college offers, reach out to an academic advisor and ask! These opportunities can help you to better understand what career paths are available after graduation and what skills employers are looking for so that you aren't blindsided by entry level job descriptions that require 1-3 years of experience or proficiency in a long list of advanced software applications.

To avoid this post graduation anxiety and ensure you get the most out of your college experience make sure you help yourself by taking advantage of campus resources and applying for internships early on in your college career. If you do these things, you will have an impressive resume that will help you to stand out in competitive applicant pools.

The current job market is more competitive than ever. Become a PathMatch client today to give yourself an edge on the potential competition and set yourself up for success.

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