Phi Beta Cons

Tell Me What I Should Know

I had the opportunity to speak to a group of students over the weekend on what it means to be educated instead of credentialed. It was a refreshing experience to speak with truly motivated students. If all college students were as intelligent, mature, and articulate as these students presented themselves, higher-education critics would have many fewer books and columns to write.

Yet I was asked one question that cast a small shadow over the experience, but it also represented the proverbial teachable moment. A student asked me, “What should I take away from this?” My response was to ask several students what they learned from my presentation. Upon hearing varying answers that all fit my goals of the session, I returned to the initial questioner and explained that it’s okay to ask for advice, but the world outside of college is not a test with an answer key.

I hear employers frequently complain about recent college graduates’ inability to complete assigned work without asking for clarification of every detail. How did we get to this point? More important, how can we get more students to better deal with ambiguity?

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