Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Students Choosing a College Major: What Employers Want from Colleges

If you're considering your college major and education options, you've probably seen at least one media source talk about the purpose of college and whether college is still worth it. And whether any liberal arts degree other than business (is that a liberal art?) has a path to financial greatness.  The hype is enough to make anyone unsure of how to make a financial investment in education.

I think the issue has been oversimplified, overly alarmist - with little helpful or practical information for students and parents of students wondering if their retirement funds are being sucked into a black hole of irrelevance.

But the good outcome of all this handwringing is the attention given to making well-thought out career and education decisions.  That doesn't mean you have to decide on day 1 of your college education what your graduation job will be.  But it does mean that you should pay attention to what interests you, what you want to learn, and how you can fit that into the first career step of many after graduation.

So as you choose your college major, you might consider what you'll learn from your chosen program in these skill areas employers believe are important outcomes for college students:

Intellectual and Practical Skills
  •Written and oral communication
  •Critical thinking and analytic reasoning
  •Complex problem solving
  •Teamwork skills in diverse groups
  •Creativity and innovation
  •Information literacy
  •Quantitative reasoning

*% of employers surveyed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities who say colleges should place more emphasis on "learning outcomes" in these skills.

If you've paid attention to anything Daniel Pink has written about the coming of the Right Brained Thinker, then you'll see that there is more to life than a business degree (not that there is anything wrong with that).  There are plenty of other liberal arts options (yes, philosophy is one of them) that will teach you the skills to excel in business or any field.  It is possible to take business courses while you study philosophy. It IS possible to think outside the college major/career path box. What a concept!

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