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University Learning

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Students have different reasons as to why they enrol in university. According to The National Union of Students (2008; pp.3-4) 95% of students attend university in order to make a career for themselves, 67 % attend university because of social and economic expectations and 57% of students enrol in tertiary education in order to improve themselves. Whatever may be the reason or field of study, certain skills are required for the success in university and most students who graduate from higher education may have attained these particular skills; also known as employability skills defined by Robinson (2000; p.1) as “the basic skills necessary for getting, keeping and doing well in a job”, which inevitably benefit graduates when entering the corporate world.
This argument shall elaborate and evaluate skills acquired and developed within a university setting with both positive and negative influences, by applying certain skills to particular examples of everyday situations within the corporate world and the community. This argument shall break down the main attributes of critical thinking with reference to research done by reputable authors. The importance and relevance of academic writing and critical literacy shall also be cross examined with the main elements of corporate writing, also referred to as business writing. An evaluation of ‘’ The academic discourse and Culture’’ (Wallace, Schirato, & Bright. 1999, pp. 18-21) shall also be provided in the body of this argument.
Communication is a very important skill acquired at a very young age but maturely developed by higher education. According to The University of Massachusetts (n.d, p.1) Communication skills is the ability to communicate verbally, in writing or through electronic means, covering interpersonal communication, presentation and negotiation skills. There are many opportunities within a university setting where one may develop their communication skills, such as group assignments, class representatives and communicating with lecturers and tutors. In the corporate world communication is essential; with the attainment of this skill one is enabled to successfully communicate with team members in team meetings, pose as a team leader and clearly communicate goals across the board it also allows an employee to develop positive working relationships with colleagues and clients (idem. n.d), this directly affects the level of social support one acquires (Urquhart and Pooley 2007; p80). The more one can communicate successfully with others. Due to the fact that good communication is one of the key characteristics of a good leader (Zhivago, 2010) this skill makes an employee a great asset to the organisation he or she works and also makes them a more open and sociable individual in their personal lives.
As defined by The Foundation For Critical Thinking (n.d), ’’ Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analysing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.’’ This definition may be long but it accurately breaks down critical thinking into its simplest form. Each one of these elements may be applied to life and its situations accordingly. As a university graduate critical thinking becomes a conscious activity, allowing the individual to be able to locate and find information, understand the information identify its relevance and work out and express ideas in a more developed manner (Allen, 1997; p.136) The most applicable element of critical thinking is reasoning which is defined as the communication of knowledge; this element in particular is essential when it comes to being active within a society and understanding new concept academically and professionally (idem. p147). Although some may argue that being critical may cause some problems socially and professionally as supported by a statement made by McGraw (2012) “being critical may become unhealthy and neurotic’’ .One needs to acknowledge the difference between over criticism and criticism, as well as social, academic and professional criticism.
College provides an excellent venue to explore ones intellectual curiosity (Burns, 2006; pxii). Innovation is a skill not all university graduates master, but those that do, have an added advantage especially in the ever-growing entrepreneurial industry. Innovation is the one area where Capitalistic Economic viewpoints are least implemented, this would undoubtedly act as a benefit to the economy worldwide (Mitra, 2009). In some cases the ability to be innovative determines the type of job you get for example in Interior Designing Industry where Imagination is key. Not only should graduates be innovative in the corporate world but also within their personal lives as individuals, this allows individuals to avoid commoditisation, this, according to Life Optimizer (2012) is when skills and objects that are deemed to be of great value become basic commodities. By becoming innovative such situations are avoided due to the ever-changing ideas and environments, therefore enriching personal lives and activities by maintaining elements such as adventure and excitement as this maintains momentum in one’s life (McGraw, 2012), also keeping ideas fresh within a corporate environment (Life Optimizer, 2012).
In a university setting specialised study is one of the main attributes (Wallace, Schirato & Bright 1999; p19). There are two types of specializing in higher education, namely, a major and a minor. These two elements can be combined in many different ways, the most common ways being a single major, a double major or a major accompanied by a minor. (York University, n.d). Such studying allows a student to specialize in a particular field for example a Bachelor of Science with a major in Surgery; this means the student would learn about the medical field in general but develop a detailed understanding of Surgical Science. This enables the student to perform operations as a doctor in training; further qualifications would result in operating as a qualified doctor, making the student a Surgeon instead of just a general practitioner. This differs across academic fields. Some state that taking up a single major restricts you career choice as you are only qualified in one area (Berkley University of California, 2012), but this is a minor issue for those who actually attain jobs according to their profession as it enriches them as an employee, due to the detailed level of specialised knowledge .
The actual degree attained at graduation enriches ones academic capacity (Earl, 2012; pp. 127-133) but it’s the overall experience within the years that develop a student personally and socially (Urquhart & Pooley 2007; p89). These elements work hand in hand to develop an individual from a high school student to a professional. There are some restricting elements that a higher education brings about in the professional world but that are where the elements of lifelong learning and a mature mentality come in (Hayes 2004;pp.26-29). It is inaccurate to state that university is just a degree it is a whole lot more than that (University Alliance n.d). In conclusion the main elements of university do enrich a graduates life professionally and socially both consciously and sub consciously. Whether it’s making them a better communicator, enhancing their ability to reason, allowing them to explore their imagination and become innovative or enriching them as a specialised individual they graduate as a developed individual with a different and clearer view of the world. (Landino; 2012, p 1). Reference List
Allen, M. (1997) Smart Thinking. Smart Thinking: Skills for Critical Understanding and Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-8.
Berkley University of California (2012) Career Centre. Retrieved from; https://career.berkeley.edu/major/major.stm on October 1, 2012.
Burns, P.F. (2006) Introduction: The purpose of this book: You can make college a learning experience. Success in College: From Cs in High School to As in College. Lanham Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education. pp. v-xvi.
Hayes, C. D. (2004) The Rapture of Maturity: the Legacy of Lifelong learning. United States of America: Autodidactic Press.
Landino, R. (2012). Growth and Change Through the College Years. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2012, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/growth-and-change-through-the-college-years/.
Life Optimizer (2012) Mind development: Why it’s important and what to develop. Retrieved from; http://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2008/05/06/mind-development-why-its-important-and-what-to-develop/. On September 29, 2012.
McGraw, P. (2012) Control and Criticism. Health. Retrieved from; http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/93 on October 1, 2012.
Mitra, F. (2009) Key to Innovation: Universities. Retrieved from; http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/02/universities-innovation-government-technology-enterprise-tech-universities.html on September 29, 2012.
National Union of students (2008). Student Experience Report. Retrieved from www.nus.org.uk/PageFiles/4017/NUS_StudentExperienceReport.pdf. on October 1, 2012.
Robinson, J.P. (2000). The Workplace. Alabama Cooperative Extension System. 3 (1); 1-2.
The Foundation for Critical Thinking (n.d). Defining Critical Thinking. Retrieved from; http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766 , on September 30, 2012.
The University of Massachusetts (n.d). Communication Skills. Retrieved from; http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/students/employable/skills/communication/. On October 1, 2012.
University Alliance (n.d) More than just a degree. Retrieved from; http://www.unialliance.ac.uk/campaigns/studentstories/ on October 1, 2012.
Urquhart, b & Pooley, J. (2007). The transition experience of Australian students to university: The importance of social support. The Australian Community Psychologist, 19(2):pp. 78-91.
Wallace, A., Schirato, T. & Bright, P (1999). All about universities. Beginning University: Thinking, Researching and writing for success. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Pp.13- 24.
York University (n.d) Majors and Minors. Retrieved from; http://futurestudents.yorku.ca/majors-minors on October 2, 2012.
Zhivago, K. (2010). The 10 Characteristics of an Effective Leader. Retrieved from; http://www.revenuejournal.com/2010/01/top_10_characteristics_of_an_e.php on September 30, 2012.

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