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Bentley on Bloomberg: The Extended Classroom
Three years ago, employers and corporate recruiters gave college graduates a grade of “C” for preparedness in their first job. Today, a new survey commissioned by Bentley University’s PreparedU Project reveals 78% of employers now feel that graduates DO have the skills they need to succeed after college.
So what’s changed?
In the past five to ten years, there has been a major shift in the way that professors are teaching their courses. Traditionally, most courses were based on a lecture format, where the professor would stand in the front of the classroom and talk to students while writing notes on a white board or using a PowerPoint presentation.
While these classes still exist, the new norm is for courses to have an increased focus on technology and hands-on-learning. Students are being required to complete fieldwork and group projects in their courses, where they present information to peers and corporate partners. According to Bentley’s new market research, 73 percent of educators report they have moved toward a curriculum that includes a combination of classroom learning and relevant fieldwork, and 67 percent say they place a greater emphasis on technology.
Bentley President Gloria Larson joined Bloomberg Radio’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson, along with guest experts, to discuss how students can benefit from this extended classroom model and leverage their skills in a competitive market place.
Take advantage of opportunities in the classroom
Employers tell us that today’s recent graduates have opportunities and education that rival previous generations. It is no longer solely what students learn in the classroom that carries them through their career, but the notion of an extended classroom that includes real-world experience that truly prepares them to succeed. In their courses, students have opportunities to interact with corporate partners, learn technologies that will give them an edge in specific industries and work on group projects that hone collaboration and communications skills. All of these experiences prepare students to succeed in the working world.
Look for schools that offer corporate immersion programs
My philosophy has always been that you can bring the real world into the classroom and the classroom into the real world. It’s an approach that due to market demands and ongoing technological advances is being adopted by many colleges and universities. At Bentley, we have a program called Corporate Immersion which goes way beyond classroom visits from corporate partners. Our students serve as consultants and complete real work for companies in a classroom setting. Students can seek out these opportunities to learn the skills needed to make them more employable to future employers.
Remember there is always room to grow
As a corporate recruiter, I have noticed that more colleges and universities are listening to our feedback and are equipping students with the hard and soft skills needed to succeed in the workplace. As a result, graduates are coming into the work environment with a lot more confidence than we have seen in years past. While we have made a lot of headway in preparing students, there is no doubt that there is still work to be done. I still believe today’s graduates need even more exposure to real work experience. Even making an effort to job shadow someone in an industry or position students are interested in shows a commitment to growth.
Create your own opportunities
Not every college or university offers the same extended classroom opportunities that I have received at Bentley, but that doesn’t mean that students can’t ensure that they are prepared for the job search after graduation. Students can take it upon themselves to network with professionals in the industry they are hoping to enter. It is also important for students to utilize their college’s Career Services department. They can help students who might be struggling with what they want to do after graduation. At the end of the day, students need to put it on themselves to reach out and make connections to help them navigate the job market.
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.