“What makes a college a great educational institution? Over the long run it is the graduates. The success of our first class will be measured at their fifth year reunion, when they return with budding careers, healthy families and passion to embrace the world. In most schools, these graduates are mentored, advised and supported by the generations before them. Fancy buildings are nice, a new football stadium would be awesome, but the greatest gift alumni can give to young students is the benefit of their experience and their ability to open doors. Most of our UTS graduates did not become full time ministers in the church, they have applied their seminary lessons on the front lines of their hometowns, creating careers late in life, brilliant children and a foundation of experience that young graduates desperately need. It would be the best outcome of all if Barrytown College graduates were adopted by UTS alumni as their own.
Part of our planning process is creating advisory teams of Unificationists who can support the college by their passions and expertise. UTS graduates represent the collective intellectual capital of the American Unification Movement. Through the next twenty years, the intellectual, business and cultural leadership of the American UM will need to be transferred to younger generations to ensure the vitality of the Unification ideal. The college hopes to expedite this discussion through forums and conferences to develop a mature Unification canon, applied Unificationism.
We look forward to this adventure and hope that alumni will join us in asking the hard questions, and more importantly, engage in a thoughtful, constructive dialogue that brings new ideas and wise answers to our current situation along with setting the foundation for the next hundred years.” ( Richard Panzer Ph.D.)
To help fuel questions, answers and dialogue, the Cornerstone introduces Real Life Skills 101 by the president of High Point University.
Real World 101: A New Paradigm in Higher Education
By Nido Qubein, president of High Point University
What is the purpose of higher education?
It’s a question we should ask ourselves daily.
Answers, of course, will vary. Young people attend college to learn critical thinking; to gain exposure to different ideas and philosophies; to illuminate their minds with eons of collected insights on history, literature, art, science, mathematics; to revel in the sheer joy of learning; to forge lifelong friendships; to learn to function – laundry, food, budget, love – all while outside the safety of the nest.
These are all valid reasons to pursue the college experience. There is one significant reason, however, that encompasses all of them. And it’s a reason I think many schools fail to adequately address: Most students attend college to prepare for life in the Real World.
I am not suggesting that broadening the mind through immersion in theory does not prepare one for life beyond college. I firmly believe it does. I am merely pointing out that there is a wealth of practical knowledge that students must grasp in order to succeed in the world outside the classroom. The corridors of corporate America demand a different skill set than the hallowed halls of academia. We must do a better job of teaching these skills.
It used to be accepted practice for employers to take young hires under their wing and teach them what they need to know for their job: how the business world works, what to wear to client meetings, how to manage their time, how to manage company resources and why these last two items are actually the same.
Fresh-out-of-college employees were viewed as apprentices. To carefully groom them was an investment in the future. The reward was a loyal employee who would be a company asset for many years to come.
Those slow-paced, sepia-toned days are gone forever. We’re in the middle of an uncertain economy where many jobs that were once havens for recent graduates-customer-service call center work, for instance-have moved overseas. Competition for the remaining jobs is fierce. I have spent enough time consulting with countless business leaders from all walks of corporate life to know all too well the challenges faced by corporate America.
The harsh truth is that many companies today view new college grads as a hiring risk. Employers don’t have the time, money, or wherewithal to teach them the practical skills they need to jump the breach between liability and asset.
This is an unfortunate reality for young people who, sheepskin in hand, strike out in search of their first “real” job. But for universities with the vision to teach these Real World skills to their students, it’s also an unprecedented opportunity.
I would like to share with you how our school, High Point University, is working to bridge the chasm between university life and, well, life. We have recently instituted a new mandatory course-taught by yours truly-that every student must take before he or she graduates.
Called Life Skills, this course gives students a hefty dose of Real World pragmatism before they leave HPU. The skills they learn are meant to help them succeed in all aspects of life-academic, professional, and personal.
The best way to describe what Life Skills is all about is to share an excerpt from the course brochure:
- To teach you how to gain a positive self-esteem.Positive self-esteem can give you the character to face any obstacle that stands in your way. With high self-esteem, you can meet the most disappointing and discouraging situations with faith, hope, and courage. The primary difference between winners and losers is attitude. Winners make their goals; losers make excuses.
- To teach you the art and science of goal-setting.Most of the things that make life worth living require careful introspection, sufficient time to develop, and plenty of hard work. Setting goals and consistently working toward them is the only way to control your life. In this course you will learn the seven guidelines that are followed by the most successful people in America.
- To teach you the fundamentals of leadership.Leaders are made, not born. Even if you don’t want to pursue a career that is traditionally thought of as requiring leadership, you can certainly benefit from knowing how to persuade, influence, and negotiate with others. In this course you will learn the primary principles of leadership and explore how you can use them to craft a successful life.
- To enlighten you on the importance of fiscal literacy and stewardship.I will offer a mini-crash course in economics: how businesses make money and how you, the employee, should make wise use of company resources. You’ll learn how to manage your own money for long-term prosperity. Knowing how to save, invest, avoid bad debt, and otherwise make sound financial decisions will help you meet your goals and enjoy peace of mind.
- To instruct you on the importance of health and wellness.It may surprise you to see this topic in a Life Skills course, but think about it: what is more central to quality of life than quality of health? There’s no point in having a brilliant, lucrative career if you don’t feel well enough (or live long enough) to enjoy it. You’ll learn strategies for building exercise into your day and planning for nourishing meals.
- To teach you the basics of time management.Time is your greatest treasure. If you don’t make a constant decision to invest it in the pursuit of your goals and objectives, you are throwing it away. You will learn practical techniques for analyzing your time habits, keeping daily and weekly to-do lists, getting organized, and yes, making time for leisure, friendship, and spiritual growth.
- To help you gain effective communication skills and make persuasive presentations.Through effective communication we exchange information, ideas, and opinions with other people, we integrate our lives into the human race, and we make happen the things we want to happen. Communicating effectively is the “master key” to success. In this course you’ll learn how to get your point across and listen to the points of others.
- To learn the importance of etiquette and protocol.You’ll learn how to build a business wardrobe and wear it appropriately, how to handle yourself at meetings, lunches, and social events, what to say (and not to say) on the telephone, in e-mail, and in person, and much more. In the business world, knowing “the rules” is the price of admission. And it’s the determinant for whether you’ll advance or stagnate in your career.
It may surprise people to see that the material covered goes far beyond the basics of business protocol. That’s because the characteristics that make a successful, productive business professional are the same ones that make up a healthy human being. We are who we are-at home, at work, and at school.
Since High Point University started spreading the Real World gospel, we’ve experienced an outpouring of interest from potential students. Applications for the 2006 freshman class were double what they were a year ago. Open House attendance is up 300 percent, and retention is up 11 percent.
Should other colleges and universities follow HPU’s lead? Absolutely! As the economy shifts and businesses become leaner and meaner, people are questioning the nature of traditional education. Is the college experience what it should be? Are students really getting a good ROI? Why am I spending a fortune to send my children to school if they come out unprepared for an entry-level job?
The further upward tuition spirals, the more fervently college-bound students and their parents will demand more bang for their buck. Universities must change the way we think about our own product. The ones that meet changing consumer demands will succeed; the ones that don’t will find themselves starved of tuition dollars and will founder.
Commit to ensuring that your institution is destined for continued success. Future business enterprises, our communities, and our children depend on it.