what do you wish new grads learned in college?

A reader writes:

This might be an “ask the readers” question — what do managers (and coworkers!) wish new graduates would have learned in college? I teach a lot of first- and second-year college students, and I try to incorporate professional norms into my classes and course design. I begin each class period with a practical moment, many gleaned from your site (resumes should be about accomplishments, thank-you emails not thank-you notes, how to appropriately respond to a peer’s bad behavior, etc.). I also use (white-collar) employment norms when I can – instead of group projects, I assign students different roles on a team and have them work towards a specific outcome. I actively encourage students to just email that they’re ill or have an appointment instead of sharing every detail of their vomiting or sister’s visit. I use a contract grading system that gives students practice planning and regulating their workload. I don’t have “excused” vs “unexcused” absences, just a set number they can use for what they wish. Things like that.

I know that school is not work, and should not be work — my goal is my students’ learning, an employer’s goal is for the organization to succeed. But I want to prepare them for the world they will enter, and if I can design a course to achieve the appropriate learning outcomes while also accustoming them to workplace norms, so much the better.

So, same question asked two different ways. What do managers and coworkers wish new grads had learned in college? Or, if you like, what bad habits or bad approaches do new grads bring to their first job from their educational experience?

It’s a great “ask the readers” question. So readers, have at it in the comment section.

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