Monday, November 04, 2013

New Report: Grads Not Only Unprepared for Workplace, But Unaware of How Unprepared They Are

Inside Higher Ed reported on the findings of a new survey that shows just how flawed the education system is in America today. Half of college students say they are prepared for the workplace, but hiring managers completely disagree.

It is sad enough that only 50% of college students think they are prepared for the workplace, but the fact that only 39% of employers say that the students are prepared is even more worrisome. 77% of students, but only 50% of hiring managers believed that students were capable of "prioritizing" - an extremely basic job skill. 70% of students, but only 44% of managers believed they could communicate with authority figures/clients. 52% of students believed they were prepared to create a budget or financial goal, but only 30% of employers agreed - making that the lowest ranked skill overall.

The study, titled "Bridge That Gap," included responses from 1,000 hiring managers and 2,001 college students. Students overestimated themselves on literally every single tested skill by at least ten percentage points. There were certain skills that even a majority of the overconfident students did not think they could do, including managing a meeting and making a decision without having all the facts.

"Bridge That Gap"'s findings support the need for student professional development prior to graduation:

93% of hiring managers want to see that the graduates they hire have demonstrated the initiative to lead.

91% of hiring managers hope to see that applicants they hire have participated in extracurricular activities related to their field of study.

82% think the recent graduates they hire should have completed a formal internship before graduating from college.

And it is readily apparent that professional development is still lacking in most students' college experiences:

Outside of schoolwork, the activity that college students identify spending the most time doing is socializing with friends (49%). This was followed by:

Working at a job not related to their field of study (31%)
Working out (29%)

Extracurricular activities not related to their field of study (22%)

Volunteering (15%)

Working at a job related to their field of study (14%)

Extracurricular activities related to their field of study (11%)

Working in an internship related to their field of study (8%)

Attending networking events (2%)

Working in an internship not related to their field of study (1%)
Other (4%)

Experts have been arguing for the complete integration of career services into higher education for some time. More studies like "Bridge That Gap" could provide the impetus for action.


Leading British university in row over two-tier admissions policy

Row as one of Britain's top universities – Bristol – admits pupils from dozens of leading schools with lower grades than their peers. Bristol University is admitting students with lower grades if they attend a school or college ranked among the bottom 40 per cent nationally.

Pupils from dozens of private schools will be admitted to one of Britain’s leading universities with low entry grades as part of a policy designed to engineer a more “balanced” student body.

Bristol University is classifying pupils as being educationally disadvantaged if they attend a school ranked among the bottom 40 per cent in the country.

It has drawn up a list of 1,370 relatively poor-performing schools that it suggests may be putting pupils at a disadvantage during the admissions process.

Students applying from these schools may be given the offer of a place typically one grade lower than the standard entry threshold for other candidates, the university said.

The move comes amid government pressure on universities to widen access to teenagers from poor backgrounds to create a more socially-balanced student body.

But an analysis by The Good Schools Guide shows that the list includes many highly-regarded private schools and state schools rated “outstanding” by Ofsted – the watchdog’s highest ranking.

At least 30 fee-paying schools are named including Sedbergh, the boarding school in Cumbria, which was founded in 1525 and charges up to £29,000-a-year.

Others listed by the university include Warminster, the 300-year-old school in Wiltshire, and the renowned Chetham's School of Music in Manchester.

The disclosure prompted claims last night that the policy may be putting pupils at many good schools at an unfair advantage.

It comes as sixth-formers across Britain prepare to apply to university for degree courses starting in autumn 2014.

Under government rules, universities must draw up targets and initiatives designed to ensure students from disadvantaged groups are not deterred by tuition fees of up to £9,000-a-year.

Institutions are given complete freedom to choose how to measure “disadvantage”, with most aiming for students from deprived families and those living in areas with a poor history of going on to higher education.

At least 11 Russell Group universities have opted to use state schools as a specific target measure – prompting outrage from fee-paying institutions.

But Bristol has chosen to simply use a school’s overall A-level results as a proxy for disadvantage. The university said it took "into account the educational context in which academic achievements have been gained, particularly if there is evidence that the applicant’s current or most recently attended school or college performs below a defined threshold".

All pupils attending schools in the bottom 40 per cent nationally may be made a “contextual” offer of a place.

It said these offers were “typically a grade lower than the standard offer”.

But The Good Schools Guide found that private schools including Halliford in Surrey, King Edward’s School in Godalming, Surrey, and Aldenham in Hertfordshire, were all included on the list. Other private schools include Tring Park School for Performing Arts in Hertfordshire and Box Hill School, Surrey.

Scores of "outstanding" state schools were also included such as Alexandra Park School, Ernest Bevin College, Glenthorne High School and Hendon School in London, Walsall’s Cheslyn Hay High School and Clevedon School in North Somerset.

Janette Wallis, senior editor of The Good Schools Guide, said the move highlighted the “complexities of broad use of contextual data, particularly regarding school attended”.

She added: “If you want to get your child into Bristol, you might want to consider sending your child to a low achieving independent school.”

A spokeswoman for Bristol said the “bottom 40 per cent” policy had been in use for three years, with the list being updated annually.

The university has been keen to avoid the use of any rules that may be seen to discriminate against pupils from private schools after headmasters urged pupils to boycott Bristol nine years ago in protest over the “arbitrary rejection” of well-qualified candidates from fee-paying institutions.

"We've been using contextual data as part of our admissions procedure for the past 10 years and review our approach regularly to take the latest research into account,” the spokeswoman said.

“We now have a well-established approach of assessing applications holistically by setting academic achievement in the context of school performance. We do not take school type into account."


Sebastian Faulks: All my children seemed to be taught about was Nazis and global warming

Children should be taught about the human dimension of the First World War in schools, not just about “Nazis and global warming”, according to Sebastian Faulks, the author.

Faulks, who is on a committee advising the Government on First World War centenary commemorations, said he hoped the occasion would be a “good chance to try” teaching children more.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, to be published in full on Monday, Faulks said of his children’s education: “All my children seemed to be taught about was Nazis and global warming.

“I don’t know at what age a child can be expected to understand both the political background to the war and the human dimension of the catastrophe — but it’s a good chance to try.”

Faulks, who wrote the bestselling First World War novel Birdsong, has previously said Britain did not do enough to commemorate the conflict when veterans were still alive to appreciate it.

At a literary festival last month, Faulks — whose three children are now aged between 17 and 23 — said he had not learnt about the realities of the First World War in his own school days, and that he believed the horrors had only been widely discussed relatively recently.

When asked whether more should have been done to make veterans feel appreciated when they were alive, he said: “We probably didn’t do enough. I think it is a matter of regret.” He added that it was something he “tried to come to grips with” in Birdsong, which he intended as a “gesture of understanding” to survivors.

“It’s an attempt to reach out to that generation and say somebody born a long time afterwards has tried to understand and hold out a hand,” he said.

The BBC has already pledged to commemorate the human side of the First World War in their four-year season of new commissions based around the conflict. One programme, entitled My Great War, will contain previously unseen footage of First World War veterans speaking about the emotional experience of war, and their fears at going into battle.

Earlier this year, the Government announced a scheme to allow pupils from every school in the country to visit the battlefields of the First World War, as well as reforming the National Curriculum to ensure those aged 11 to 14 learnt more about it.

Last month, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said: “The men who gave their lives in the Great War will remain heroes forever. The last British veteran has now died but their bravery and suffering must never be forgotten.

“This project will ensure that never happens by leaving a lasting legacy of this hugely significant period of our nation’s history and culture.

“Children will learn, at first hand, about the sacrifices made by individuals and communities to secure our nation and protect our liberty. This tangible experience will reinforce what they have learnt in the classroom.”


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