College Students Need Improved Skills to Survive in Current Job Market

Sep 26, 2013

Credit www.rit.edu

The current job market can be tough for recent college graduates. 

A noted sociologist speaking at RIT this afternoon says many students graduate without the skills they need to land a keep a good job. 

Richard Arum says critical thinking complex reasoning and writing are at the core of what students need to know in the 21st century job market. “As the economy becomes increasingly dynamic and graduates move from job to job and industry to industry, it’s these higher order skills that help them make those transitions successfully.” 

Arum and his colleagues did research involving students enrolled in 25 American colleges and universities. 36 % of the students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills between their freshman year and graduation.  He says too many are not exposed to the rigorous course work necessary to develop these skills.  “When we looked at their academic experiences, they said things like that they had only studied an hour a day.  We really have to question whether all students are getting exposure to rigorous academic coursework at college today.” 

RIT is currently developing ways to integrate critical thinking into the overall curriculum. St. John Fisher College recently announced that their graduating seniors will be taking the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which is said to provide “an objective, benchmarked report card for critical thinking skills.”  Arum says these types of standardized tests are imperfect. "Nevertheless, they are often capable of showing us broad patterns of what is working and what's not working. Therefore, I applaud universities that are attempting to track students over time to see if they're developing the skills that they want." 

Richard Arum is co-author of the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.  

He is speaking at 4 p.m. today in the Webb Auditorium at James E. Booth Hall on the RIT campus.