Many students graduate from college grossly under-prepared for the harsh reality of the workforce – which often consists of grueling schedules and requires responsible, adult behavior.
One reason for this, according to experts, has to do with the rarity of the five-day school week on college campuses.
Gabriel Alaniz, assistant director of career services at the University of La Verne, said the issue of whether or not college is a preparatory step on the career ladder was a controversial one.
Depending on the institution itself, students could either gain valid experience or emerge terribly unready for the full-time responsibility of the standardized work week.
Alaniz explained that some universities adopt an “in loco parentis (in the place of the parent)” philosophy.
“If students are treated as children and not held to the standard of adults then the structure of school will affect students in a negative way. If students are used to showing up late to classes, meetings or appointments and are not getting reprimanded for such behavior, they will most likely carry these negative habits onto their respective jobs.
“Students who are full time and do not have part-time or full-time jobs may be affected all by a huge change in their personal habits,” Alaniz added. “On the other hand, many students are busy working to pay for their college educations, so they might not be affected at all.”
Vanessa Lau, a 2005 ULV alumna, also said the capacity to adapt to life after college largely depends on the individual student’s outlook on adulthood.
“I felt prepared for the workforce, but I didn’t feel prepared for the five-day, 40-hour work week,” Lau said. “Academically speaking, I was ready but not in terms of scheduling.
“It takes a matter of adjusting; I tried to work my schedule around Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays so I would have Fridays off while I was in school, but once you start working you can’t do that,” Lau added.
Other students, however, said that many college students actually become accustomed to the art of juggling both classes and work while still in high school.
However, Gordon Badovick, dean of the University’s college of business and public management, said impossible classroom demands typically determine course schedules, and that the length of the school week was unrelated to the potential outcome of graduating, career-bound students.
“I personally do not believe that the fact that students do not go to school five days a week would have any impact on their work habits when they graduate,” Badovick said. “Colleges include more Friday classes because it helps them to better manage their limited classroom assets.”
As a member of the academic calendar task force, Badovick helped establish a single classroom schedule for both the 15-week semester and 10-week terms.
“It is almost impossible to add new classes because there simply are no more classrooms available,” Badovick said. “Many colleges are forced to try to schedule classes throughout the week, including Friday, simply to be efficient with the use of these resources.”
The hours after 4 p.m. have grown increasingly hectic and to encourage program growth and to create less-burdened amenities, 12 percent of evening classes offered at ULV must now be held on Fridays.
However, several universities across the nation, including Syracuse and Duke, have changed their course schedules to include more Friday classes— for the expressed purpose of encouraging career preparation.
Britney Collins, a sophomore English major and part-time Big 5 Sporting Goods employee, said she found school itself to be an integral part of the growth process and that working weekends only further prepared her for “real world” responsibility.
“There’s always going to be something to do; I can’t just be sitting around, which, in a way, is teaching me to be independent,” Collins said.
Alicia Carranco, a senior liberal studies major, also believes a full four-day schedule of classes is enough and that her much needed Friday nights off are perhaps preparation for the long vacation periods she would have once she began teaching.
“With a full week of school, I don’t need a Friday class,” Carranco said. “I think once you have a stable job, you are responsible for showing up five days a week, unless you don’t want to get paid or want to get fired. Life starts and you have to start working.”
Kady Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.