Many people come to college to prepare themselves for a career in “the real world.” However, college students across the nation who are getting ready to graduate may not be as prepared as they thought, according to a recent study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The study found that some of these students do not possess a great deal of “quantitative literacy” – proficiency with math-related tasks – such as the skills needed to balance a checkbook.
While this is a disturbing commentary on today’s generation of college students, the study found that “there is no difference between the quantitative literacy of today’s graduates compared with previous generations.”
So this generation does not show a decline in basic skills compared with its predecessors, though this generation has not gone above and beyond to become proficient in these skills. Maybe this is because students are so wrapped up in so-called “fancy book learning” and always had others – namely parents – around to take care of these things for them.
Conversely, it could also be because the parents of these students were not adept with these tasks, either. One of the findings of the study was that “the literacy skills of college students is directly related to the education of their parents: Children whose parents graduated college or attended graduate school have higher literacy than students whose parents did not graduate high school or stopped after receiving a high school diploma or GED.”
Yet the longer a person is in college, the more they learn how to look up things they do not know about in order to become more familiar about them.
An article on CNN.com that reported on the study said, “College students had superior skills in searching and using information from texts and documents.”
So if these students do not know how to calculate things, such as how much of a tip to leave at a restaurant, they need to look it up.
It is wonderful for students to study concepts such as the difference between modern and postmodern society during their time in college. However, students should also be learning the basic rudimentary skills that are needed for living in society. If there was no necessity to learn these skills earlier in life, necessity will soon be the mother of invention for these young men and women when they go to buy their first house or apply for their first credit card.
These are basic life skills that put one’s degree into context so that, as Daniel Ruth said in his column in Monday’s Tampa Tribune, “A college diploma might mean more than a place mat at McDonald’s.”