How Colleges Can Adapt Their Curricula for the Real World

There are a number of things that a university can do to upgrade their programs and better prepare students for today’s workforce.

How can colleges update their curriculum to better prepare undergraduate students for the workforce? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

When it comes to higher education, innovation isn’t necessarily the first word that comes to mind, but it should be. The more innovative the curriculum, the more desirable the graduate. Fortunately there are a number of things that a university can do to upgrade their programs and better prepare students for today’s workforce including the following:

Incorporating Soft Skills. Many studies have shown, time and time again, that soft skills are much more important than hard skills in realation to career success. Still, many universities have yet to place a strong emphasis on them in their curricula. They need to fix this ASAP.

Leveraging Hands-On Assignments and Tasks. There is no better way for students to learn than by working on the type of assignments that they might actually complete in the real world versus some dusty old case studies or lengthy papers. The more real-world experience they can gain in college, the better prepared they will be for an entry level job when they graduate.

Replacing Traditional Texts with Modern Business Books. The curriculum becomes much more interesting when we replace (or at least supplement) lengthy textbooks with modern business books from successful thought leaders, CEOs and founders. The students actually enjoy reading them too while they learn more in the process.

Incorporating Video Assignments and Presentations. Because today’s students are so much more likely to communicate via a smart device than in person, it is that much more critical for them to practice presenting in person or via video so that they can polish their communication and pitching skills (which they will need to sell ideas and themselves within organizations).

Offering Students Opportunities to Network. Modern curricula should provide students with ample oportunities to network. Understanding how, when, where and why to network is a crucial part of business success.

Having Students Work with Existing Companies as Part of Their Assigned Learning. If we can get students working with business leaders early on, they will understand what it’s like to be assigned a task, where it fits in within the company, how to work with others, and how their contributions impact the bottom line.

Devoting Time to Modern Workforce Topics. What employees need to know today is not what they needed to know 5 years ago. It’s important that modern curricula reflects that with time devoted to topics such as hybrid work and leadership, employee burnout and motivation, dealing with pandemics and other disasters, employee resignations, and remote work tools, to name a few.

Teaching Students About the Importance of Mindset. In order to be successful at anything, a person needs to develop the right mindset, but so little time is spent regarding how one can do so. Undergraduate programs should absolutely include courses on mindset to grow the resilience and grit of their students.

Providing Help With Work-Life Balance and Time Management. Time management is essential for productivity and work life balance. Yet, it is another skill that many employees (and students) are lacking. It’s up to universities out there to help students learn this valuable skill so that they can thrive personally and professionally.

Giving Students Substance/Ascertaining the Value of Topics Taught. I think sometimes we build curricula around what has been traditionally taught, but we need to dig deeper. For example, does teaching in-depth statistics make sense for every student? Might some be better served by learning about key business metics instead?

Treating Your Courses Like Products and Students Like Customers. Nobody in higher education likes to think of students as customers, but the truth of the matter is that they are. They choose where they want to go to school and they have lots of options. That’s why it’s so vital to make sure that your products (courses and programs) are engaging, innovative, and provide value. You want your customers to be delighted in each and every one.

This question originally appeared on Quora.

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