Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

There Is Life after College

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

There Is Life after College

Article excerpt

William Morrow, 2016. $25.99. 320 pp.

As tuition has risen and students have assumed larger debts, a national debate has arisen about the value of postsecondary education. Jeffrey Selingo brings a new sense of urgency to conversations on affordability and return-on-investment by focusing on people.

As Selingo repeatedly reminds his reader, when it comes to life after college, it's not so much about where you go but what you do. Selingo contends that students looking to launch into independent adulthood soon after earning a bachelor's degree should pursue an education heavy on authentic, knowledge-transferring work experiences. Given the advantages to be garnered through internships, cooperative learning, and work-focused gap years, students and parents are encouraged to beyond graduation. While the question "Where do you go to school?" has typically been followed by "What's your major," Selingo encourages us to rethink the conversation--"Why that school?" and "How do they support your post-commencement plans?" As he argues, going to the right school, majoring in the right discipline, or just finishing with a degree hardly matters. None of these alone is likely to set one on a path toward meaningful employment and an independent life.

Selingo opens with a chapter each on students and employers, providing a sense of what each constituency seeks in the other. He then addresses decisions to be made by future college students, encouraging careful discernment about matters such as taking a gap year; evaluating a college's location; crafting a strategy for landing meaningful internships; and intentionally propelling oneself into the adult world, especially if one has skill gaps to address. Next come a pair of chapters about institutions that have innovated with an eye toward preparing their students for life after college. The book's final two chapters describe how employers sift through candidates to hire a select few and how candidates might improve their chances by improving storytelling skills. Throughout, Selingo deftly draws upon interviews with relevant stakeholders as framed by an impressive array of scholarship, all dutifully accounted for in the book's notes. …

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