Newly minted college graduates are entering a promising job market. This year, businesses are on track to hire 5 percent more young workers than they did in 2015.
But few are actually prepared for employment. A survey from PayScale, a compensation data firm, found that even though nine in 10 recent college grads believe they're prepared for the workforce, only half the nation's employers agree. As one of the survey's authors explained, "the fundamentals of business… are not taught in our school systems."
Colleges and universities need to address this. Specifically, they should aggressively incorporate into their courses high-impact educational practices (HIP), which connect academic lessons to real-world problems and foster the creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking employers most value. These practices can turn academically engaged students into profession-ready graduates.
In today's job market, academic skills alone aren't sufficient for success. Employers also want workers who can communicate effectively with customers and each other, who know how to manage their time and are efficient, and who can get a task done with minimal supervision. Indeed, over 90 percent of businesses value such "soft" aptitudes more highly than any specific college major, according to a survey from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
High-impact practices provide this pre-professional base, often in the form of extended research, collaborative projects, or community-based service jobs. In every case, a central feature is frequent, rigorous feedback. Students improve their work habits and communication skills in response to input from peers and professors. Instead of toiling away at solo homework assignments and term papers, students operate in an environment that actually approximates the working world.