What Employers Want You to Learn

Employers want you to have a very specific set of personal skills. Among the top of the list are:  critical thinking, written and oral communications, inquiry and analysis, quantitative literacy, information literacy, team work and problem solving, life long learning. Notice that this list of priorities does not include, “a college degree from XYZ university” or “a major in ABC”.  This list prioritizes what you need to be able to do to be a valued employee. Your challenge is to wisely invest your time and money in learning that can provide these personal skills. The bottom line is that simply getting a college degree (“getting the piece of paper”) is not sufficient to meet these employer needs.

You need to learn to be able to compete today. Far-reaching global, economic and technological developments have converged to make post-secondary learning an imperative for almost everyone.

Buzz Today Source: Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College Both the country’s future economic growth and individual opportunity are now closely tied to the attainment of high levels of knowledge and skill, and to the ability to continuing learning over a lifetime. Former Harvard University President Derek Bok reports that college students are under-performing in virtually every area of academic endeavor including skills such as critical thinking, writing and quantitative reasoning.

So a question you should be asking is: “Why are employers looking for better ways to hire?” I defer to Laszio Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations to answer this question. “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.s are worthless as a criteria for hiring and test scores are worthless – no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” Bock said. “Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything…On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything.” Source: New York Times Interview

The important thing about this information, is what it means to you – someone trying to decide the best course of action to your learn-prosper future. Here is the main take away. When it comes to getting a better job, one that is challenging, fulfilling and pays well, the things that have been valuable in the past are far less valuable today. Your opportunities are much more defined by how accomplished you are in the skills listed in the first paragraph of this blog than either the major or which college or university you attended. This all brings us to a discussion about the cost and value of your learning. This is a topic I will cover in future blog posts here. In the meantime, it is valuable to read “Your Future is Calling” to better understand why you should view learning as the path to the prosperous future you desire.

Five Things You Need to Know to Determine: “Is College Worth It?”

Not needed. High debt. No Job. Too costly. These are all things people are saying these days in answer to the question: “Is College Worth It?”. The two extreme answers are ALWAYS and NEVER (see BUZZ Today here). Neither of these answers is correct. If always and never are incorrect, the answer must lie somewhere in between these two absolutes. Indeed it does, which leads to the real question you should be asking which is: “When is College Worth It?” It is the answer to this question which will help you make better decisions for yourself and your children.

Buzz TodaySource: Alen Weiss, The Fallacy of College. “College not only isn’t for everybody, it might not be for anybody.” In contrast: Source: Time, December 2013, Gallup Poll – Majority of Americans Think College Education Is ‘Very Important’. The Gallup poll found that seven in 10 Americans consider a college education to be “very important,” up from 36 percent in 1978. Only six percent of respondents said college education was “not too important.”

First Thing You Need to Know Any college degree that traps you in a life of misery is not “Worth It” no matter how much or how little you spend to earn that degree. Misery is about you. It is not about college or even jobs. You have to begin with “who you are”. The decisions you make about college majors, careers and specific universities all must be linked to you and what fulfills you as an individual. This is the starting place for your college decisions that I talk about in Your Future is Calling.

Second Thing You Need to Know  One of the things that significantly increases the cost of college is the tradition of using the college to “find yourself”. This might have been an option in the good old days. It is the best option today. Going to a campus for five or six years is just too expensive today. There are much more efficient ways to get answers to this critical question. Degree Accelerator and Caliper assessment.are proven online instruments to efficiently get at the “who you are” question.

Third Thing You Need to Know The career you pick as well as the college you pick have significant impact on your earning power. But what is traditionally done is to pick a college or university and then figure out what to study. This is what I call Major – Major – Major in Your Future is Calling.  The Major – Major – Major decision is one of the main reasons the average number of credits of college graduates is on average over 10% more than than required for graduation. This excess both delays earning income and increases student debt.

Fourth Thing You Need to Know The vast majority of students pay only about one half of the list price of tuition, yet 54% of the potential students judge a college’s expense by sticker price alone without considering aid that could be offered. If you pay double the cost for tuition it makes every degree less likely to be “Worth It” from a financial point of view.

Fifth Thing You Need to Know Beyond getting the best discount. In college language this is stated in terms of grants and merit scholarships. In addition there additional way that the total cost of the education can be reduced

– Enroll in a community college to get a low cost education for your first two year general education requirement.

– Test out competency with CLEP testing from the non-profit College Board.

– Earn credit for prior learning assessment for life experience from CAEL and Learning Counts.

In summary, the five things that you can do to increase the answer YES to the question: “When is College Worth It?” are listed in summary here:

Use modern tools to determine “who you are”. Use data available on O*NET or Bureau of Labor Statistics to select a career before taking your first class. Learn what the average grants and merit scholarship awards are at the college you plan to attend. Know the facts on tuition costs and negotiate. Further reduce costs by avoiding Major – Major – Major. Finally further reduce costs through the approaches listed in detail in the Fifth item listed above.