The onset of the COVID 19 pandemic forced educational institutions at all levels to scramble and figure out how to deliver instruction without classrooms. The summer months were well placed to give educators time to figure out what comes next. For decades the United States has taken heat for under-performing primary and secondary schools. The knock on colleges has been whether their expense is worth the product they produce. As our entire educational system tries to retool to handle a highly contagious virus, the time has come to be creative and actually produce a better system than the one we have complained about for generations.
Brandon Busteed is a contributor to Forbes.com. He has several interesting ideas for how universities can regain the prominence they once had – not by the level of prestige they inspire, but by producing outcomes that are undeniably worth the cost. One suggestion is to produce a “triple threat graduate.” This is actually a term typically used in basketball. In the area of education this graduate might be referred to as T-shaped. The idea is for every graduate to leave their university having completed an internship, a long-term project and with an industry-recognized credential to go along with their degree.
We have all seen students get to college and have a field day. They are involved in student government, they spend a semester studying abroad; spend a summer doing an internship and take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities. We have also seen the student that is doing well to find their seat by the time the professor begins their lecture and can’t wait to fall back into bed when the class is over. Mr. Busteed believes that if our universities will make some of these optional opportunities a part of the four-year degree, that students would receive an education more in line with the cost of going to college. Employers would then reap the benefits of hiring brand new college graduates that were ready to take on some level of responsibility. Will putting such systems in place require time, money and effort? Can you think of anything worthwhile that does not?
It’s time to use these alumni networks for more than fundraising. Potential employers would be all too happy to lend guidance concerning capstone programs and provide internships if the outcome is capable and competent employees. The time is right and change is necessary. Don’t let it go to waste.