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How can we best engage college students in the idea of learning instead of just getting a degree?

I work at a 4 year, public university and I see a great deal of students who come to school to get their degree (which they equate to money/success) and do not care about learning. What are your thoughts on the best way to engage them in the actual process of learning. I have my thoughts, but would love to hear my fellow TEDsters thoughts.


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  • Apr 10 2013: One of the biggest problems I see with university studies in particular is that they are dissociated from what the job market values in terms of skills. Most jobs require a fairly high level of technical skills, and yet most High School graduates lack even the most basic skills to be considered for an entry level job. Universities have traditionally managed to bridge that gap, but as technological changes have accelerated, even Universities are finding that they are ill prepared to deal with the rapid developments and changes.

    I live and breathe IT across a pretty broad spectrum - everything from servers and networks to low level users and even disabled people. The one common thing I see, time and time again, is how - even 20 years into the "information age", workers are still unable to deal with even the most basic technology issues. The really scary thing is that it includes relatively young users as well - often recent college graduates.

    In my narrow world view, we shouldn't allow a single college degree unless they could demonstrate some competence in basic computing skills and typing. At this point every person should have some training in being able to tell what spam and malware looks like. Instead, we (taxpayers) spend inordinate amounts of our dollars and teacher's time in classes on art, photography (anyone still developing film? LOL!), cooking, and sports. We truly have a nation of amateur athletes that don't know how to turn on an All-In-One computer or know NOT to click on every single link in their emails.

    Get a curriculum that is based on industry needs, and which directly leads to competitive jobs and internships with leaders in our various industries. Hold a carrot up in front of our freshmen: "Learn this and earn a real career with unlimited potential", instead of "show up and get a certificate for your wall". Instead of mandatory intro courses on how to find food on campus, perhaps a job-fair or two?

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