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Teaching Students About the World of Work: A Challenge to Postsecondary Educators

May 19, 2020

At a Glance

Students attend college to strive for success. Yet few college students know why it is so important to build a network to support their ambitions—or how to do it. Teaching Students About the World of Work argues that colleges can better support young people in achieving both professional and economic success by teaching about the realities of work.

Michael Collins Vice President
Nancy Hoffman Senior Advisor

Teaching Students About the World of Work [is] a welcome first step in a much larger project crucial to everyone in higher education: making the promise of equality come true.

Matthew Reed, Vice President for Learning at Brookdale Community College

Now is the time for our educational institutions to address the topic of work and prepare young people for the family-supporting careers of today and the future.

Teaching Students About the World of Work: A Challenge to Postsecondary Educators argues that colleges need to teach students about work—especially public colleges that often serve young people from marginalized communities. This new book, published by the Harvard Education Press and edited by JFF’s Michael Lawrence Collins and Nancy Hoffman, aims to jumpstart a conversation among higher education leaders about how to best address this challenge.

Many students make enormous sacrifices to go to community and four-year colleges, too often with blind faith in the outcomes that will be theirs with a college degree—a good salary and work that provides at least some satisfaction. They go into debt, put their families at financial risk, and endure stress as they work and care for others while going to school.

Far too many do so knowing little about what awaits them at the end of this journey: how difficult it may be to find a good job even with a degree, how long it will take to pay back loans, what the salaries are for entry-level positions, and how important it is to leverage networks and professional friendships.

The authors make a convincing case that schools should better integrate the world of work into the college experience in order to help students develop the skills, confidence, and contacts to achieve professional and economic success.

Martha Ross, Fellow at Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

According to the Harvard Education Press, “editors Nancy Hoffman and Michael Lawrence Collins and their authors provide a rich and comprehensive view of both today’s work world and the challenges facing many young people who are determined to find a place within it.”

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