Recently, there is a growing debate about the worth of a college degree, particularly an expensive college degree. Burdened with college loans that suck the life line out of our young graduates, many are now questioning the real value of a college degree.
Unlike some nations where not every high school graduate is expected to go to college or earn a four-year degree, corporations in the
require or prefer a college degree for many entry-level positions. When you probe this somewhat indiscriminate requirement, hiring managers often confess that the reason they look for at least a college degree is because students, particularly high school students, and now even college students, are not adequately prepared to meet the demands of the workforce. So does this mean that if you don’t have a college degree you cannot make a decent living? Be a part of the American dream? Become an entrepreneur? Far from it! What this means is that you must have a love for learning and knowledge – whether you get it online or in a class room setting. You must continually learn new things; take a course or attend a workshop or become an apprentice. You must invest your time and effort in developing the right skills for the workforce and the right attitude for success. So what are a few important skills for the workforce (with or without a college degree)?
- The ability to read, write, and speak. In short, communications. We may not all be perfect at all three, but it is important to have above average skills when it comes to communications.
- Critical thinking and problem-solving: Can you take a problem, analyze it thoughtfully, and come up with a meaningful and comprehensive solution? Or, do you expect your boss to hand hold you every step of the way?
- Understanding of the fundamentals of the business world: one may not all be terrific in accounting, but one should have some understanding of business functions. A holistic understanding of the business world is important.
- Can you speak a language other than your own? If you plan to serve more than your street corner, language skills become vital.
- Good ethics: what will you do when no one is watching? Do you have an understanding right and wrong?
These skills can be honed, with or without a college degree and for those who do, success is assured.
Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the President of USAsiaEdu.com, a New York based educational consulting company that specializes in higher education in Asia.