Patience: College Prepares Us to Fail in the Real World

By Alisa Patience

Is the University of Utah teaching students what we need to know for the real world?

This is a complicated question. To me, the real world implies living on your own, having a job, paying taxes and keeping up with current events.

Another issue is that by the time we’re in college, we are already in the real world. What do we need to know going in then? How to do taxes, how to write a resume with a proper cover letter, how to rent an apartment, how to vote, how to interact with customers and co-workers, how to get insurance, how to be comfortable with who you are, how to make yourself dinner and how to cope with traumatic global and local events. These are all skills we should learn before we turn 18, so in reality, we should learn these skills in high school.

The one thing college should be teaching us is how to get jobs in our major. After all, there seems to be no point in going to school for a subject we love if we can’t get a job we love. While there are job fairs and plenty of internship opportunities, there hasn’t been a way for students to explore actual opportunities in careers pertaining to their major. Attending one of the U’s job fairs, I found it mainly consists of banking or retail jobs, most of which would be considered part-time or full-time and attainable without going to college.

As an English major, I am learning a lot about writing essays, literary theory, classic literature and how to annotate books. While I know English degrees are valuable in a world dependent on communication, I’m not entirely sure which careers are available for me. In fact, when I tell someone I’m an English major, they assume I’m going to be an English teacher.

Students of various majors have similar problems. My friend who is majoring in environmental engineering has no idea where they can work once they’re out of school. Another friend majoring in philosophy often gets teased and questioned about their major, questions like, “What could you possibly do with that?” and “Why is that even a major anymore?”

Colleges, in general, should have more ways to connect students to jobs related to various majors. The U should specifically have a career fair with careers students are studying and are specifically Utah-oriented since a lot of us end up staying.

Something one of my classes did on the first day was have every student list a career a person of that major could have.

As for everything else a person needs to know before entering the real world, high schools should have more than a simple semester of a financial literacy class that’s essentially a  several months-long game of Monopoly, cooking should be required for all students and high school English classes should do more than make sure 16-year-olds can understand the complex language of “The Odyssey.”

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