Study reveals lack in Tennessee students’ job readiness
After studying a variety of universities across the United States, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni formed the “What Will They Learn” project, which evaluates how prepared students are for the workforce.
The study is designed to rank schools not according to academic excellence but to demonstrate which schools are requiring the basics. The core concepts ACTA looked for in universities are composition, literature, foreign languages, economics and U.S. history or government.
Using public information, the study assigned a letter rank to universities based on core concepts required. The ability to circumvent these courses through American Testing Center or testing out of these classes does not satisfy ACTA’s requirements.
MTSU achieved a ‘B’ ranking because the university does not require composition, economics and foreign languages.
The university started changing its policies particularly in the English department.
“The English department has made significant changes to the first-year-composition (FYC) sequence in the last three years,” said Laura Dubeck, English professor. “We have made these changes in direct response to the TBR-mandated assessment of student writing that revealed alarming deficiencies in our students’ abilities to meet various learning outcomes.”
Dubek felt the curriculum needed changes.
“I think we need to make the curriculum more challenging and more relevant,” Dubek said. “I think this because the vast majority of FYC students do not take these courses as seriously as they should. They do not see the value in them.”
Out of 24 schools researched in Tennessee, no schools received an A. Other TBR schools such as Tennessee Technological University received a ‘B.’ However, private institutions like Vanderbilt University received a ‘D,’ despite its 92 percent graduation rate.
“It really hit home,” said Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy for ACTA. “I myself am a Yale alumni. The classics major was the only reason I had any semblance to a full education. I regret the gaps in my knowledge and even today I have only filled some of them.”
The study found that 87 percent of businesses are not finding graduates with a good grasp of the basics. According to the Department of Labor Statistic, the average American changes jobs 11 times on average.
“What you are preparing for now isn’t necessary now isn’t exactly what you will be doing,” Poliokoff said. “Sending a graduate student out into the world without a comprehensive level of knowledge is doing them an injustice.”