Thursday, November 08, 2007

What Is The End Goal?

To continue the thoughts of yesterday...

High School: So we work our butts off, do every extra-curricular activity from student government to tutoring to Habitat for Humanity to volunteering at a soup kitchen to Model UN (and on, and on), and take every Honors, International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) class we can just so we can get into the college of our choice. In AP classes we learn nothing but what will be on that AP Test at the end of the year and don't care to advance much past that for fear that our brains might push out some knowledge that might be on the DBQ section of the test. And in addition to the mindless AP Test--which becomes total memorization--we sit down with a tutor, Kaplan/Princeton Review class, practice tests, and workbooks and try to memorize every vocabulary word under the planet and go through every possible math equation that could be on the dreaded SATs or SAT IIs or ACTs (I will never forget Distance=rate*time after the SATs). We visit schools, go on interviews, read guidebooks, talk to guidance counselors, and the basically prostitute ourselves to colleges in order to get in. We run home from school and wait by the mailbox in anxious anticipation of that letter (big or small? big or small?).


Freshman Year:
When we finally get into college, we have the one year of our lives left to enjoy ourselves. We go to parties, we gain 15 pounds in the cafeteria, we watch people smoke weed and wonder what that is like, we take Intro. to XXXX and to anyone who asks, we're always "Undecided". We're in a new world, many of us away from our parents, and there seems to be nothing, and I mean nothing that will change the euphoria we feel...

Sophomore Year:
We suddenly realize we need to figure things out. We have a GPA to worry about, a major to choose by the mid or end of the year, we need to get into a group fast or risk being an outsider. If we haven't already we need to choose a fraternity/sorority and figure out which extra-curricular activities we're doing this time around. You need to worry about things like internships and figuring out the rest of your life.

Junior Year:
If you thought Junior year of High School was hell, just wait. GREs, GMATs, MCATs, LSATs, upper level classes, girls who want commitment, guys who want to go party. And you thought turning 21 was all fun and games???

Senior Year:
Panic. SOS. Help! What happened to these 4 years? What classes do I need to graduate? What classes do my potential employers want me to have? What am I going to do next? Why didn't I do this while I was in college? Grad school/job world? How am I going to answer family/friends/family friends when they ask me what I'm doing next year? Apply in September to every bank in the world. First round interviews, second round interviews, grad school apps, job apps, saying goodbye to friends, moving, relationship headaches, AHHHHH!!!


And then you hit the job market and more and more, people are coming in unprepared for the world ahead. Although they are going to college more often and getting higher degrees, they don't seem to cut it like their predecessors. You thought freshman years of high school or college was bad, now try being an analyst or an entry-level worker. Good luck. And, there's no more Spring Break or "making your own snowdays" or hitting the snooze and pretending the alarm never went off. You went to class for maybe 12 hours a week. Now you're working 5 times that. For 45 more years or more.........

The Wall Street Journal's Career Journal (click here) brought up an idea in today's paper which I think quite highly of: employers and schools working together. Instead of creating this madness of Junior and Senior year, imagine if an employer had it spelled out for you. Imagine if you got to college and they had it spelled out for you. Imagine if you were applying to college and they gave you every single detail of what you would have to do to get a job for them after?

It would solve the whole process. Because, in the end, all that stuff you are doing in high school is just to get you to the end game of getting a good job. The employers would have their ideal candidates and the students would have learned the right things and be prepared for the job. It wouldn't allow a lot of creativity and trying out new classes, but we already suppress that so much in high school, why not do the same in college? In the end, wouldn't we all be better off if your college and your employer were working together to get you prepared for the next 45 years of your life?

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