Do Colleges and Universities Prepare Students to Real Life?


There is an opinion that colleges and universities fail to prepare students for employment. The proponents of this view argue that the skills and knowledge taught on the courses provided by higher education institutions are not applicable in real life. However, it is difficult to agree with this point of view because obtaining a higher education is an important step on the way to a successful career. Educational institutions provide students with professional knowledge and hard skills, without which it is impossible to apply for a highly-skilled job. In addition, higher education causes students to develop soft skills, which are valuable to employers. This essay will argue that colleges and universities adequately prepare their students for the job market because they teach students to learn, adapt, and combine autonomy with collaboration, which helps students find employment.


First of all, universities and colleges teach students to learn and adapt, which later helps them to navigate real life. Some people think that higher education institutions should teach students the exact skills that will be needed in a particular workplace. For example, Brooks (2011) argues that “college students are raised in an environment that demands one set of navigational skills, and they are then cast out into a different environment requiring a different set of skills, which they have to figure out on their own” (para. 5). However, job requirements vary from one employer to another, and it seems impossible for educational institutions to consider all skills that may be necessary for different students. Therefore, universities and colleges reasonably focus on teaching students how to learn and adapt to different environments. This is in line with Jermyn’s (2020) statement that “the human capital of tomorrow will be [employees] that can be resilient, flexible, nimble and really adopt this notion of lifelong learning” (para. 15). Thus, educational institutions provide students with useful general skills that will allow them to develop more specific skills pertaining to their future jobs.

Secondly, educational institutions teach students both autonomy and collaboration, which are valuable in real life and in the workplace. Brooks (2011) reports that “graduates are told to be independent-minded and to express their inner spirit” (para. 13). Although he refers to independence from a negative viewpoint, this quality can actually be valuable in the workplace. Students learn independence and autonomy when they try to manage their time to reach the balance between life and studies and complete individual course works. Graduates with developed independence can be valuable employees because they need less supervision from managers and can suggest improvements to their organization. While obtaining higher education, students also complete various group assignments, which improves their ability to collaborate with peers. Teamwork and interpersonal skills that are developed during such activities are among the most valuable soft skills that employers seek in job applicants. Thus, universities and colleges improve graduates’ employability by teaching them to work both individually and in a team.

Finally, the fact that most graduates can find employment indicates that universities and colleges provide them with good advice about how to prepare for the job market. According to Jermyn (2020), the employment rate of Canadian college graduates is 80-90%, and in 90% of cases, employers who hired recent college graduates were satisfied with their work. These statistics show that higher education institutions are quite successful in increasing graduates’ employability because they help students not only find a job but also perform their responsibilities adequately. Universities and colleges prepare students for the job market by providing them with both theory and practice. For example, they may advise students to apply for an internship during their studies, which allows students to gain relevant working experience and significantly increases their chances of employment after graduation. Thus, higher education institutions effectively fulfill their key mission, which is preparing students for transitioning from the learning environment to the workplace.


In conclusion, universities and colleges effectively prepare students for employment by teaching them knowledge and skills critical to achieving success in finding a job and developing a career. These essential skills include the ability to learn and adapt to various environments, autonomy in managing time and making decisions, and effective collaboration with peers. Higher education institutions also provide students with an opportunity to combine theory with practice, which increases graduates’ value in the eyes of a potential employer. However, students should remember that colleges and universities provide them only with tools that enable them to make the first step on their career path. Each student’s success in finding employment and achieving further career development greatly depends on his or her own efforts and willingness to realize their potential. For this reason, even if educational institutions provide students with the highest-quality training, and the best advice regarding employment, the eventual success of graduates in the workplace will be mostly defined by their personal endeavors.


Brooks, D. (2011). It’s not about you. The New York Times. Web.

Jermyn, D. (2020). Educators work with employers to promote postsecondary programs. The Globe and Mail. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. (2023, October 9). Do Colleges and Universities Prepare Students to Real Life? Retrieved from


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ChalkyPapers. 2023. "Do Colleges and Universities Prepare Students to Real Life?" October 9, 2023.

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ChalkyPapers. "Do Colleges and Universities Prepare Students to Real Life?" October 9, 2023.