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Students need the school of life

After five long years in college I couldn’t wait to graduate. I knew everything — well at the time, I thought I did.

With my teaching degree in one hand and blissful ignorance in the other, I planned to rescue the world.

At last, my graduation ceremony arrived. “World are you ready to be saved?” I whispered confidently to myself as I accepted my degree from the president of the university. But a big and unexpected snag lay hidden and ready to attack me from the audience. I didn’t know where or how to start my new life; for the first time — in 14 years — I had no school or college timetable to usher me through the day. Soon, I was the damsel in distress who needed saving from the world.

Unable to find a job, I returned home because I had no money or spirit left. Surely having a degree guaranteed me a job or did it?

My confidence ebbed away. At home laid another hidden and abrupt snag; my once assumed freedom disappeared. Nevertheless, it was not all unpleasant living at home again — it nudged me back towards my family. Now, I rank my family above everything else: Facebook, football, and friends included.

Meanwhile, many of my college friends, out of work and out of patience, left for faraway corners of the globe in search of a better life. I was tempted to join them. Emigration pulled eagerly at my sleeve every day until I found my first teaching position. These hurdles after college taught me that students, like me, are unprepared to find a job in the so-called real world. We’re not taught how to jump over these hurdles; we simply crash into them. Universities prepare students to become fine doctors, teachers, and lawyers, but these same students leave college illiterate when it comes to entering the real world and finding their first professional job.

Government, parents, and students spend enough money on student schooling and such a glaring gap is goofy. It needs to be solved through more emphasis on practical living skills. I knew, for example, how to write the perfect CV and yet I didn’t know how to use it; it’s something I never learned at college. Now, I realise that going to university is much more than learning. It’s about teaching students how to live, teaching them morals and guiding them on their first steps outside the safe sanctuary of academia.

But these skills are shunned in the place of more important indicators like employability. Students will only understand the true meaning of the saying “experience makes fools wise” when they enter the so-called real world for the first time and crash into a few hurdles along the way.

Chris Callaghan
Co Donegal


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