Your turn: Is it all about jobs?

By David DeBrot, LSU

My son is 7 years old and in Grade 1. His last field trip was to a local kid’s ‘edutainment’ facility entirely themed on occupations and getting them to think about what job they’d like to perform in the future. I felt frustrated – ‘Isn’t 7 a little too early to start focusing on what job you want and a better time for daydreaming and enjoying the years before having to work?’

And yet, I work at a university, which like all other universities, seeks to match the knowledge and skills required in specific fields and professions with the courses and other activities and programs it structures, delivers and markets to students. I think it makes sense that universities should do this — but the question is, is that all they should do?

Here at the LSU we provide key academic language and learning support that students need to excel academically. Many other support services also provide students with key points of contact, programs and resources throughout their time at the University. The ultimate goal of the academic courses and programs, and the support services mentioned above, is the development of an informed and skilled graduate who can gain employment or further study.

If we accept that further study will also ultimately lead to gained employment, then it seems that there must be some residual benefit to the individual and others they come into contact with other than simply employment itself. But what are these benefits? Graduate outcomes or attributes are common at universities — and perhaps these can be measured or observed, but how often are they?

The questions I’d like to hear back on are:

  • What other knowledge or skills should a university experience leave students with other than those directly related to employment?
  • Should the university experience be transformative, not just in terms of discipline knowledge or skills for their future careers, but in other areas of personal or intellectual development which are measured or demonstrated?

Please leave your thoughts on these below in the comments section.

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3 responses to “Your turn: Is it all about jobs?”

  1. Huy Vuong Do Thanh says :

    I think university should leave students with academic skills, so beside working in their joibs, they can still self study to improve themselves. They can also teach others what they’ve studied: be not selfish, be sharing!. In general, they can, in some way, contribute back to education and help keep it running and even make it better. Anyone agree?

  2. Cheryl DeBrot-Erwin says :

    Assuming that a college freshman at RMIT is 18, the transformation that he or she experiences between admission and graduation is huge. Not only are there physical changes, but also experiences that leave an indelible impression for a lifetime. My late Mother, who was a consummate teacher long before her official education as a teacher told me many times, “The main thing you learn in college is how much you do not know.” Her statement doesn’t only refer to “book knowledge” but also to how much you do not know about people, the world, and yes, even yourself. I would like to think of the college/university years as an introductory laboratory if you will to the world of adulthood. However, when one graduates from college/university, the ceremony is called “Commencement” for a reason. It is only the beginning, the Launchpad of your lift-off into the experience of life as an adult.

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