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Life After College

By Julia Gormley
On March 11, 2018

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Does college prepare you for life?

Projects, research papers, books and lectures are all keys to learning, but is the college curriculum missing components when preparing students for life after college? Many students report not feeling prepared for the “real world” and worry about the next steps of life. However, utilizing resources through the university helps point students in the right direction. 

Senior Coralin Bates graduates this May but considers herself to be one of those students who is confused on what the next step in life may be.

“I feel like we are sort of babied, so you don’t really get a sense of independence unless you live off campus or whatever. And I didn’t turn 21 until my senior year, so that wasn’t really an option for me. We are sheltered. Like yeah, I don’t even know where to start,” Bates says.

Bates credits some of her confusion to the curriculum. However, she takes responsibility for part and advises students on what to do, so that they too can worry less about the transition from college to life.

“Take classes that you actually have interest in. Because you never know what you might like. That’s what happened to me. I started as an exercise science major but ended up switching to history. Explore your interests. I also wish I had a wider variety of classes to choose from. I know with history, I like world history, but we predominately teach U.S. history, and I’ve already taken pretty much every class the school offers,” Bates says. 

Out of the four years Bates spent at OU, she reports only regretting one thing in terms of her education.

“Probably networking more,” she says. "Going out and talking to people. Finding out what interests me. Getting out and exploring careers to have a leg up when entering my field.”

After taking a break from school, 48-year-old John Gardner has now attended OU for three years. He agrees with Bates that networking and exploring your interests are an important part of being prepared for life after college.

“College teaches you more how to live by a book. By knowledge. Life teaches you reality. Two different things. Book knowledge only gets you so far. They should really have more intern programs to prepare you for exactly what you’re getting into. College just gives you the book knowledge,” Gardner says.

Through his years of not attending college, Gardner gained a different perspective regarding entering the work force and looking for jobs. This is an area that he deems the curriculum should focus on more.

“I decided to come back to school because I needed a career, not a job. I don’t think college prepares you for the career search. They give you the knowledge but then have the mindset that now you have the degree, you can just go find a job, and it’s really not like that. Because a bachelor’s degree today is like a high school diploma, and there are hundreds of people all competing against you. You need more than just a bachelors degree. You need experience, and you almost need a masters” he says.

In the end, students ultimately are in charge of their education and what they take from their time at a university. However, the ways in which college addresses our futures aren’t always effective. With this being said, students must take initiative and seek out opportunities for growth outside of their textbooks. Students who feel overwhelmed in their search can contact Christine Currier, or any of the other Adawe advisors, to receive career services, such as career planning, networking appointments and resume building. Even though it’s a stressful time, the only true failure is not trying at all. College is what you make of it.

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