Is job security really the top concern?

According to the New York Times, a report by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University finds that college students and recent graduates rank job security above other major life goals.

Well, yes. But when asked about the job attributes that were most important to them, working adults ranked the following above or alongside job security: work/life balance, positive work environment/culture, good compensation, and having interesting work to do. Undergraduate and graduate students gave similar rankings, except that they ranked compensation just below job security. (The exact rankings vary according to your reading of the data; if you look at “essential” job attributes,  the ranking comes out one way; if you  look at “essential or very important” attributes, it rearranges a little, but not much.)

Now, as for life goals, it doesn’t appear that work/life balance, positive work environment, or intesting work were even offered as options. One could argue that the first two aren’t life goals.But the third could be. Given that both students and adults ranked it so high among job attributes, it’s likely they would have ranked it high among life goals as well. Having a job “with impact on causes important to me” was listed among the life goal options, but that’s not the same as having an interesting job.

So, while the New York Times doesn’t exactly misstate what’s in the report, it draws skewed conclusions from it. Yes, when given a limited set of options for life goals, college students and adults ranked job security highest. Yet when it came to job attributes, the quality and substance of the job mattered at least as much to them as job security. Also, what can one draw from the fact that of all the job attributes listed, work/life balance ranks highest?

Of course this report isn’t the final word on what people want  from jobs. Polls have limitations to begin with, and this one may have caveats that I haven’t noticed. But what it says is intriguing.

Prof: Students can’t tie their own shoes

In recent years, college students have lost the ability to tie their own shoes, writes Jerry Weinberger, a Michigan State political science professor, on City Journal.  Without their helicopter parents, students lose syllabi, break appointments and can’t find the final exam. They don’t buy the right books — and as many as 20 percent don’t read the books, Weinberger believes.

Before 2004, his final exams would pose essay questions like “Compare Hobbes and Nietzsche on the question of religion” and “What is the difference between Marx and Locke on the origins of private property?” That’s impossible now. Too many would flunk.

Students demand “study guides” before the midterm and the final exams. They want to know “the important chapters” in the reading and “the important points” in the lectures they missed. Above all, they want to know what’s going to be on the final exam.

I then asked them if in high school they’d been “taught to their tests,” especially standardized ones, and provided with study guides and PowerPoint summaries that, in essence, gave them the questions and the answers. My query elicited a sea of nodding heads.

When I gave the exam, some students groused when they saw questions that could be answered only by having read the texts. . . . After grades were in, an excellent student with a 4.0 GPA who earned an A-minus in my class e-mailed me: “It is honestly the first class I have had to work for a grade much since I have been in college. College is full of courses handing out study guides nearly identical to exams, and I thoroughly appreciated this challenge, and actually having to read the material and come to class.”

There’s nothing new about students asking: Will it be on the test? But college students of yore didn’t expect a detailed answer.

Weinberger blames high school prep for standardized tests, but teachers can’t spoon-feed answers to tests they don’t write themselves. Michigan State students earned A’s and B’s in high school. It sounds like they did projects that didn’t require much reading, got detailed study guides for exams and used extra credit to raise their grades.

Teachers, what do you think?

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Addicted to media

College students are “addicted to media,” concludes a University of Maryland study, 24 Hours: Unplugged. Asked to go a day without media and then write about the experience, students  described themselves as “in withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery, crazy.”

“We were surprised by how many students admitted that they were ‘incredibly addicted’ to media,” noted the project director Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland and the director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda which conducted the study.

Without text messaging, phone calling, instant messaging, email and Facebook, students felt they couldn’t connect with friends, even those living near by.

“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” wrote one student. “When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”

Very few participants regularly read a newspaper, watch TV news, listen to radio news or check  mainstream media news sites online. They pick up news from secondary sources.

Via Textually.org