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 curricula 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.