Future of the University

As Virginia Tech moves into the future, I would like to see a focus on the student.  What I mean by this is a focus on the higher education that a student receives and the way they are prepared for their future careers.  I do not think it is enough for students to be taught facts and figures.  A full higher education should consist of the development of interpersonal skills, interview skills, workplace skills, and other skills that would ensure the success of students in their chosen careers.  After attending a year of graduate school, I have felt that I have learned much more when it comes to time management, work-life balance, and interviewing skills than I did in my four years of undergraduate education.  These are skills that are easily learned and easily taught.  Professors should be able to instill these skills in their instruction throughout the undergraduate curriculum.

The teaching of these skills is necessary for students to understand the career market and how to succeed in life after higher education.  Not enough of these skills are taught and ‘shown’ to students in the course of the status quo curriculum that is being taught.  Due to the nature of the changing society and job market in most, if not all career paths, the learning of such things as the proper way to write a report, the importance of being on time and professional, and workplace demeanor, are of great importance.  I feel there is a lack of preparation throughout higher education in these specific areas.  Although some students may learn this in the course of an undergraduate internship with a company, others, who may not be able to partake in such an internship may not learn these same skills.  I feel that it is the responsibility of a higher education institution to teach these skills to its student body in order to be looked upon as a desirable place to receive a higher education.

The repercussions of teaching these workplace skills can then be beneficial to the higher education institution, the students, and the community in which the institution serves.  Considering that service to the community is on many of these institutions mission statements it is imperative to ensure that the students who earn a degree are not only taught in the facts and figures of their chosen major but also receive an education in their future careers.

3 Replies to “Future of the University”

  1. I agree Chris, I think all programs should have experiential learning components that exposes students to the real world and the ways their degree applies. Ideally these components would also include seminars on preparing for life after school with regards to finding self motivation and time management especially.

  2. For my graduate school has really helped in honing in on my time-management skills, but it has also helped to prepare me for the workforce in ways that I hadn’t really expected. Having the experience of being a GTA or GRA is really great because you learn such valuable skills like time-management, customer service, how to interact amongst co workers professionally, etc. These are things that should be available to undergraduate students as well. Not all degrees require an experiential learning component, but it is something that I believe all students would greatly benefit from.

  3. In the field of engineering, soft skills are usually underestimated but are so important when you start to explore professional opportunities and even grad school. I think multiple programs including some at Virginia Tech have understood this need and now include some courses in this area. The question remains if this is enough?

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