So often in higher education we ask ourselves, what should a university look like? How can we best prepare students to be successful in the world of work and as good citizens in their communities?
As we discuss and design the university of the future, it would be presumptuous for institutional leaders to engage in the process without first talking not only to current students, but also to those much younger than them who are developing learning styles and facing future global challenges that are dramatically different than probably anything we have seen in the past.
Today, more students than ever before are graduating on time from high school; and the majority of these students are continuing their education in pursuit of a college degree. However, in terms of career and job readiness, the trend of new, emerging technologies to outpace individuals with more traditional backgrounds — thereby threatening job security — needs to be at the forefront of our thinking about higher education.
Are we teaching students to be good at one thing, a specific role? Or, has our approach evolved, fostering within these young adults the ability to be nimble in the undeniably changeable face of today’s economy, leveraging this new generation’s strengths?
This new generation of students will tell you that they can communicate across a diverse set of mediums; that they are technologically sophisticated; and, above all else, that they are motivated to be active learners. As such, we need to create a program of offerings that is fundamentally different — one that reflects the strengths of these future graduates.
Our focus must be on discovery and adaptation; and this kind of learning necessitates getting outside of the classroom.Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D.
It involves internships and study abroad programs; career development and networking opportunities; community engagement and the student experience. This is how our students will go on to find true satisfaction in what they do.
Some of the most influential leaders of our time have indicated that success is not necessarily about being rich or powerful. They talk about relationships, health and well-being, and societal impact; about happiness, satisfaction, and enjoying your work; about constant growth, the grind, and how to retain your own unique qualities. When I consider the kind of student we want to continue to attract to the University of New Haven, I see an institution where it is possible for students to pursue their passion and purpose, without silos or boundaries that hem in their creativity. Their impact, sense of purpose, community engagement, adventure, and calling should start here; and they should carry what they learn here with them long after they graduate. We should aspire to be a place that changes the lives of those who want to change the world.
With best wishes,
Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D.