The long term readers of Innovation Zen will probably know that I am skeptic about the value you get from University degrees and MBA programs. In my opinion most of the traditional education focus too much on knowledge while neglecting the development of competencies and attitudes (you can read about the difference between knowledge, competencies and attitudes here).
The NextStudent blog has an interesting article titled “13 things I wish I learned in College”. While I would add more competencies and attitudes to the list you will certainly find those points valid:
1. Getting to the Point: Most of the term papers I did in college were long and had minimal requirements. The last thing my boss wants to read is a 10 page report that could have been one paragraph long.
2. Making Proper Presentations: Having cheesy designed slides may have worked well in college, but in the corporate world simple, effective designs are preferred. Now I have learned that slides with less text and larger font sizes are much more effective then slides with lots of text and small font sizes.
3. Working on a Team: Most of my college career was made up of reading, studying, test taking and paper writing. Most of which I did alone. I was graded on how well I performed, not on how well I performed on a team.
4. Writing a Resume: College seminars that help students prepare for the great “job hunt,” should teach students how to create a basic resume template and then custom tailor it to fit specific job requirements.
5. Interviewing: I spent some ample time in college talking to my professors in an attempt to highlight my value in class, but dropping knowledge to a professor in order to increase my grade and proving that I am the best candidate for a job are two very different things.
6. Networking: Most of the students leaving the university are not aware of the importance of networking. Actually when they finish their studies they have already lost a huge opportunity to create an initial network with the professors and other students. In the business world it is all about who you know.
7. Accountability: If I did not feel like getting out of bed to go to class, I just skipped. I didn’t need to inform anyone why I didn’t attend. In my job, if I were to feel sick and not show up, I would be out of a job quickly.
8. Money Management: In school my parents footed the bill, so I never really worried about saving money, balancing my checkbook or overextending my credit card. If I got in a pinch, I always had a back up plan—calling home.
9. Taking the Initiative: It was easy doing only what my professors required of me, and often, most students never learned to think for themselves. My boss now expects me to come up with ideas and unique solutions to problems, not just meeting the minimum standard. In my opinion you can call this the ability to “make things happen.”
10. Strategic Planning: Though I learned study skills in college, I never had a clear plan or strategy for what I was doing or where I was going, other than completing my courses. In the business world, every outcome is measured, every result analyzed. The ability to set goals, measure results, redefine goals and adjust the strategy is something very important both for your personal and professional success.
11. Dressing for Success: Rolling out of bed and slipping into something comfortable doesn’t really cut it in the world of work. The corporate world has certain rules, and whether you think they are right or not you will need to follow some.
12. Negotiating a Raise: In the real world, my salary is tied to my productivity. If my efforts are continually generating revenues or tangible benefits for the company I work for, my boss should reward my efforts accordingly. In all the college business classes I took, the subject was never breached. This knowledge would have saved me a lot of embarrassment. Also, it would have resulted in a healthier raise and higher perceived value to the company I work for.
13. Writing a Letter of Resignation: A resignation letter is not an excuse to criticize a company, no matter how bad it is. Instead, one that is professionally done can preserve a good reference, or open doors for new prospects.
You can read the full article here.