College students, your degree doesn’t know how to go job hunting

If you are a college student or, even better, a recent college graduate please do yourself a favor.  STOP relying on your degree to go out and get a job for you.  Many of us who have walked college campuses in search of our Holy Grail have been disappointed to find out that our degrees mean nothing without human effort.

People go to college in hopes of getting to that pot of gold.  When these people sit in class and wait for the magic to happen, they get disappointed.  This is where the “college is a waste of time” crowd starts griping.  These folks often lack patience, vision, and ambition.

To my impatient little philosophers, consider the following.  First, college helps students gain a foundational knowledge of life.  For the liberal arts majors, for example, it may seem like you won’t need that math or science class but they are designed to help you think critically and analytically.  They teach process, structure, logic, and problem solving.

Second, college allows one the opportunity to learn how to thrive in a diverse community.  We automatically think cultural diversity but even at HBCUs folks have to come to grips with not being from the same region as everyone and they learn to work with students of various religions, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Third, college teaches independent living.  True, dorm life can be a safety net for some but if a student doesn’t make it in the dorms then the next step is to gain REAL independence living in the general community or to simply go back home.

Fourth, you learn to function in teams.  Student organizations present a perfect opportunity for one to learn how to function professionally and in an organized manner.  You see this difference especially in Urban America, where many youth do not learn real conflict resolution skills.  The reason so many urban youth, namely black urban youth, have thrived in college is because they gain exposure to operating according to a set of rules while still maintaining some independence.

Fifth, college challenges one to complete a long-term task.  A former director of the New Orleans Recreational Department made that excellent point when I conducted a radio interview with him.  He stated that employers most likely look at where an individual completed his or her degree, but they are more interested how a candidate has managed a long-term challenge.

College is not the place for someone who wants it quickly.  It is the place for someone who truly wants to enjoy the process of learning.  But then that person has to understand that completing a degree does not grant an automatic bid to financial success.  College is a costly investment but it’s up to the student to figure out how to make that investment work.  A degree isn’t an answer to financial mysteries of life.  A college degree is the chisel with which the recipient sculpts his or her future.

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