Students' Competitiveness In the Job Market

... Is Pure Knowledge Enough?

Some people today will say that new college and university graduates just do not have the skills for today's economy. Not all of them, of course, but many do not. Sure, they have technological skills; they grew up with computers and the internet. They have no problems navigating through social media and all of the various computer programs and apps for their tablets and smart phones. But knowledge and education are not the only skills necessary in any workplace or economy.

Working Student
Graduate Student at Work

College used to be a place where students went, not only to get an education, but also to broaden their minds to different ideas, different cultures, and different ideologies. However, we have seen a trend in recent years of colleges not allowing controversial speakers to even be allowed on some campuses. We have seen a tendency for colleges to shelter students from what are called microaggressions and macroaggressions, words never heard before on college campuses. Some colleges have even gone so far as to designate only certain spots as free speech zones. We have even seen colleges set up safe spaces for students who feel threatened by others with different opinions from theirs.

I believe that what colleges have been doing is just an extension of what some people call helicopter parenting. Kids used to go outside and play. It wasn't unheard of for children to leave the house in the morning, come home for lunch, leave again, and only come back in time for dinner. There was no adult supervision. No parents followed them around all day. The kids were free to explore, invent their own games, and even settle their own differences without any adult interference.

Then one day it all changed. For some undetermined reason, it was deemed unsafe for children to play outside unsupervised. Parents started setting up play dates. Even if they took the kids to the park, they hovered nearby to make sure everybody played nice together. Kids were no longer allowed to figure out for themselves how to get along with others without an adult stepping in. They never had the chance to learn that if you hit somebody with your toy firetruck, the other person just might take that firetruck away and hit you back because a parent would step in. They never developed their own problem-solving skill set. They never learned how to compromise because they never had to do that. An adult did it for them.

Fast forward to when these same children, now young adults, go off to college. This is probably the first time in their lives that a parent is not readily available to solve every little problem that they face. So, they turn to the next best thing, the college itself, to act as a surrogate parent.

This is where safe spaces come into play. These are designated spaces where students gather together to be safe from opposing ideas or speech that might make them feel uncomfortable. But are these safe spaces really helping students? Or are they contributing to young adults who just want someone to take care of them like their over-protective, helicopter parents did while they were growing up?

I believe it is the latter. What are these young adults going to do when they get their first real job in the real world? What are these young adults going to do when they realize that employers do not care about their feelings? What are these young adults going to do when they come to the realization that other people do have different viewpoints than theirs, and that it is really okay to agree to disagree? Some of them may be able to find academic freelance writing jobs on websites like Essay Job, but the majority will need local and stable jobs.

This is where today's college and university graduates lack the necessary skills for today's economy. They lack negotiating skills and bargaining skills because they have always relied on somebody else to do it for them. The real world and the real workplace needs adults who have the skills to deal with adversity and come up with creative solutions, not feel the need for a safe space.