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The secret of college is


in learning how to learn.


Make your kids work to earn at least part of their college education.  Even if you can afford it, don’t give them free college, especially business majors!  They won’t appreciate it, and no matter how great their grades may end up because they are unencumbered from having to work, the odds are they will fail in business.  Disagree?  Read on.

First of all, this advice is coming to you from a former two-time business professor-of-the-year and student work internship program director who is also an entrepreneur (having helped start hundreds of successful new businesses) on top of solid Fortune 500 corporate experience.

At some point your college-bound son(s) and/or daughter(s) will have to face the reality of the need to gain real-world work experience.  Sooner is better than later.  And, in fact, it’s been my experience that those who hold jobs while attending college tend to be universally better performers both in class and on the job.  

Most college and university internship or cooperative education programs produce vastly superior students AND better workplace candidates.  Why?  Because nothing in any business textbook or computer program can come close to the value of hands-on experience gained on a factory floor, a retail store, a business or professional practice office, a showroom, studio, warehouse, or any form of sales.

Be aware that in today’s and the foreseeable future’s business climate (unless a college graduate is headed toward a career in law or medicine or allied medical sciences), college grades matter to absolutely no one except maybe the students and maybe the parents.

Recruiters and hiring interviews are more focused today on candidate answers to open-end questions.  How someone handles herself/himself on his or her feet (and has shown the ability to apply on-the-job experience to the classroom and vice versa) is light years more important than what an individual memorized in a management course, or than reiterating what is already on the person’s resume.

The truth is most business employers prefer an ambitious 2.5 GPA graduate with good communication and social skills who worked his or her way through college in a sales or office or manufacturing position, than a 4.0 GPA graduate with zero real-world work experience, who mumbles, shakes hands like a fish, and can’t look you straight in the eye.  That shouldn’t be surprising.  Wouldn’t that be your preference too?          

Sorry to burst bubbles here, but the secret of college is not being able to ace tests in accounting, finance, management, marketings, sales, advertising, economics, retailing, promoting, packaging and pricing, public relations, Internet business, etc. 

At least two truisms support this platform: 1) There are no rules in business.  Business moves forward by experience and innovation, not formulas, 2) The secret of college is in learning how to learn.  Subjective teacher ratings are far less important than having learned how to learn.

If you’re sending your kids off to college to learn business, let them prove to themselves that they can earn business learning by working while they learn.  The ROI is better for all involved.  

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