Is college ready for you? Part 2

Image from, accessed May 8 2017

Image from, accessed May 8 2017

What if the main premise--and promise--of attending college is inaccurate?

What if college isn't as ready for you as you have been led to believe?

This 2014 survey of employers from the Chronicle of Higher Education ranks the top 8 criteria of attributes that prospective employers look for in recent college graduates.

As you can see, where a student goes to school is at the bottom of the list.


Here is what Derek Thompson, the author of the Chronicle article, has to say about this data point:

“Can America's employers really be that indifferent toward what college I attend? Could they really read ‘Harvard University’ and just see ‘University’? Consider the larger picture. Every year, about 3 million people start their first year of college in this country. About 1,600 of them enroll at Harvard. That means that, relatively speaking, nobody goes to Harvard. Harvard does not exist. Add up all the capital-E Elite schools that jostle for the top 20 national universities and colleges in US News' annual rankings, and you've reached just 1 percent of the higher-ed population.”

So 99 percent of students should focus on acquiring work experience, whether in the form of internships, employment, or volunteering.

To put a fine point on that, note that the four criteria above that deal with experience (i.e., internships, employment, volunteering, extracurriculars) amount to 66% of the overall importance to employers.  Academics constitute only a third of what matters to them.

Of course “academics” still matter.  But what you studied, what grades you got, and where you got them don’t matter as much as you may have been conditioned to think.

Which leads me to wonder:

What are colleges doing to address this mismatch?  

Are colleges genuinely ready for students who need 66% of their college career to focus on experiences outside the classroom?

And what should high schools do to prepare students for that crucial next step in their lives?




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Christian Talbot