One area that colleges need to decide is whether focusing on student learning and growing the ability to learn is going to have a larger positive effect on student postgraduate success than focusing on a specific area of expertise. This focusing on a specific area of expertise, known as a major, has formed the bedrock of undergraduate education for many decades. Selingo argues that the ability to think “critically”, have good oral/writing skills, ability to stay motivated, ability to fail well, and ability to make friends and get along with others is more important than forming a specific area of expertise in the form of a major.
My opinion falls somewhere in the middle of Selingo’s model and the traditional study of a specific area. I believe that all of the above characteristics should be formed (and college should focus on helping students form these characteristics) while students study a semi-specific field of study. For example, it would be useful for a student to develop general skills while studying a general field like engineering or literature, instead of going “all-in” on specific fields like biomedical engineering or Russian literature. The idea of studying a generalized field instead of a specific one reflects the current labor climate and how trends develop quicker than they did a few decades ago.
Selingo also talks about an idea that that I talked about in my second essay. This idea is that there should be an intermediary step between high school and college. In many countries this includes public service, local college, a job, or military service. In my essay, I argued that going to community college before entering college or university would be a good way to develop general skills needed in college. Overall, this could be a good idea for many students to mature and figure out what they want to do with their future careers.