What University Won’t Teach YouBy Tim Ryan – July 04, 2012

For anyone who opted to complete a degree, rather than join the workforce straight out of high school, graduating can be a sobering experience (in more ways than one). The promise of a seamless transition into a job you “love” and all the perks and responsibilities that go with it seem like a world away by the time you’ve landed at your first company.

The reality is – you could fill a library with the information a university won’t teach you.

Irrespective of your chosen career path, whether you’re a lawyer, scientist, a marketer, or engineer there are some fundamental skills that are missing from most university curriculums that are absolutely essential in the conduct of everyday business.

How to run a meeting
It may sound obvious, but nothing kills time like attending a meeting set-up by someone who has no idea what they’re doing. Meetings need to be infrequent, highly structured, and with defined outcomes. Four years of university won’t teach you how to do this.

Turning a profit
So much of university is focused on ideas, rather than execution. As Thomas Edison so eloquently put it: “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% percent perspiration”. Having an idea and discussing it are the easy parts, it’s putting it together and rolling it out profitably that’s the hard part.

It’s somewhat ironic that universities do such a poor job of teaching this to students, given how much they rely on the endowments of former students who went on to build their own spectacularly successful businesses.

Conducting a pitch
Some programs require you to do presentations, but few focus on how to pitch. Presenting is more passive, than active. When you pitch, you’re expecting a specific outcome and the onus is on you to sell, convince, and elicit some sort of emotional response as opposed to merely reporting on a topic.

The importance of taking risks
The entire structure of a university program is risk-averse – from the formulaic way in which you choose your courses, to the pre-defined reading material all laid out for you. There’s few ways to stray off the beaten path.

A certain amount of risk should be encouraged at the university level, because it’s such an important part of discovering your own interests and being successful in your career. Taking risks and making mistakes is an essential step in learning, something a university should embrace.

Increasingly, universities will have to become better attuned to the needs and challenges of the modern day workplace if they are to continue to thrive. There’s simply too much to be learnt outside the classroom and the many who opt to work, as opposed to attend university, understand this all too well. As it stands, the opportunity cost of a degree continues to rise.

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One Response to “Vestiigo Article: What University Won’t Teach You”

  1. Ecki on December 11th, 2012 8:22 pm

    Don’t discount the books! My kid can sit there with a stack and abrsob more than they could ever pound into his head in a classroom, with all the comprehension tests and spelling quizzes and grammar exercises! That’s how the great men (and women) used to learn before the professionals got ahold of the process a big ol’ stack of books!One child might thrive with the routine and regularity of a day-to-day program, and one might need the excitement and autonomy of self-directed learning. We are currently in a program with the Superintendent of Schools office in which they provide some textbooks and a monthly meeting to make sure we haven’t been goofing off, and we do everything else. Now, I know a lot of homeschoolers do not want any government control of what their child learns, but we satisfy the regulations very easily by exposing him to the curriculum standards for his grade and then we can go to town and do whatever else we want and the Super’s office looks over our work and approves it for credit so that he could transfer to another school or graduate. It saves me the bookwork of registering as a school and documenting every moment, because sometimes we take a day to run around and explore and other days we might feel like churning out paperwork by the ream. It took a certain amount of conformance, I suppose you could call it, to earn the trust of our resource specialist, so that she could let me have a free hand in his education. Check around and see what your state or county allows.I’ve also checked into (but didn’t pursue, as we’re happy the way we are) a virtual school which provides a computer, printer and materials for your student. It seems more restrictive than our current program, but that free computer was tempting!

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