Published on 2012/06/04

Defining the Most Important Elements of a Successful Adult Higher Education Program

While a degree will open the door to a degree, graduates must back up their credentials with applicable skills. Photo by Tawheed Manzoor.

I have been thinking about Adult Higher Education and what would be worth being included in a course for the student. First, though, we must define who the typical adult student is? Is this person someone who left school and wants to complete their education? Or is it someone who wants a change of career? Or is it someone who wants to enhance their career?

Either way in the current climate there are “very few jobs” and I have heard people say, stay in education or go back to education because supply and demand simply do not match up. I have another theory about that but will come back to that later on.

In a higher education course, I would like to see more commercial awareness and focus on the student being able to apply the knowledge from the courses to the real world. I am not talking about the actual theory being covered (i.e. Greek mythology, Psychology etc) but the actual skill set required to get that job and hence stand out from the crowd. When applying for a job, there are a number of stages that an applicant must go through. Firstly, a letter of application, then a resume, then an interview. Each of these stages must effectively be presented well and catch the employers attention and ensure that they remember you for the right reasons. Remember, competition for any one job is generally fierce.

Whilst thinking along those lines, I would want to see the following skill set and therefore requirements and elements taught:

These include students being able to think for themselves and initiative, time management, computer literacy and the art of networking and communication skills. These skills can be taught in every subject. For example: Networking could be through discussing theory and findings with others in their class, time management is all about handing work in on time and being punctual in class and looking smart. Each assignment must be handed in using various computer programs etc.

If these skills are not addressed, and once the student leaves education, then what happens? Are they back to square one, being one in a huge crowd all competing for a job?

Now back to my earlier point made about jobs. I keep hearing that there is no work but look on Craigslist and in the jobs section—hundreds of jobs—maybe not what you are prepared to do but a job is a job which equals money, experience and skills. If the worker is any good, starting at the bottom is the quickest way of becoming an entrepreneur (by spotting opportunities) or the next CEO of a company by working their way to the top.

The days of having a degree and getting a good job immediately are nearly gone. A degree is an entry point requirement to most jobs and this is how it should be looked at. The future of the economy is in entrepreneurs who start up businesses, grow and recruit. Not multinationals who are forever restructuring.

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