What are classes everyone should take in college?
I’m a college educator, and I get this question a lot from students, prospective students, parents, even followers on Tumblr, so I thought I’d collect some resources for anyone who has this question:
And here’s my list:
1) Introductory web design: the future of just about everything is online. Knowing how to do basic layout and content management puts you ahead in the marketplace, as does understanding the basics of what technologies fuel the web. Also, having a professional-looking website going into the job market is a huge plus. Here’s an example of a class I teach in this subject.
2) Business or Technical Writing: knowing how to create professional-looking and -sounding documents is essential for any career. Here’s my technical writing class.
3) Marketing/Advertising/Public Relations: knowing how to effectively promote yourself and others is also an essential skill set in today’s economy. Competition is fierce. Just trying to get a job is about marketing yourself to prospective employers, and all three of these areas are highly marketable in general.
5) Finance/Economics: the other thing all successful professionals have in common is that they understand how the financial system works, and how to leverage financial opportunities for themselves, and, of course, how to manage their money.
6) Research: yet another thing successful professionals know how to do is find valuable information. This should be a course in your major that teaches you how to do research as an X-type of professional (because the research process is radically different in every profession), or a course that supplements your major well.
7) Logic/Critical Thinking: the ability to think through and find solutions to complex problems is yet another thing professionals have in common. This should be yet another class in your major, or one that supplements your major, as this is also very different for different professions.
8) An advanced technology course pertinent to your future career: every modern-day professional, from economists to interior designers, utilizes technology in their daily work lives. Find out what the people you want to become are using and learn as much as you can about those technologies.
9) Informational interviews: this isn’t a course, but it should be. There’s research now that most people who get sustainable jobs in this economy already know the people who hire them. This means that cultivating a professional social network is more important than ever. Ever wonder how that friend of yours landed that great job? Ask him/her. Informational interviews are simply meetings you schedule with people who have a job you want, meetings in which you ask them how they got that job.Here’s how to conduct one.
10) Internships/Service-learning: most employers don’t trust educators to prepare students for the workforce, and with good reason. College educators are busy. We can’t know everything. And I will also admit that unfortunately some of us don’t stay as much in touch with market realities as we should (I definitely strive to). Hands-on experience is essential for landing a job right out of college, and the lack of it is my theory for why 1 in 2 college graduates is currently jobless or underemployed.
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