College, a prestigious place for higher learning, should always aim to educate the minds of the people. It has always been an expensive endeavor and has always helped students to envelope themselves into the work force successfully. That’s all grand, but something has changed since the time colleges like Harvard popped up: as William Deresiewicz suggests in his article, The Disadvantages of an Elite Education, colleges have forgotten that their goal is to educate, not prepare for careers.
He suggests that elite education, offered by prestigious colleges, does not offer much help in injecting yourself into the world. People who are not from the same high class value system or educational system will escape you as you stand with your mouth open, wondering, “What can I say next?” He also suggests that his elite education caused him to act with the utmost pride towards anyone who was not with him in his educational or social background. The very essence of being an elite student is that you feel elite in the presence of every body else. So far, from this article, I am realizing that elite colleges do not give much allowance for growth in people skills.
It is important to remember not to exclude anyone because of social class, their intelligence based upon standardized testing, or their college rank. These are just numbers and do not dictate what intelligence truly is. There are several theories of intelligences and none of which include standardized testing to determine mental capacity. As the Harvard Business Review says the must-have leadership skill is social intelligence. This skill will make or break your career, because chances are, if you do not know how to efficiently and effectively communicate with coworkers and those below your rank, you will not be a good leader. Plain and simple.
Some schools, such as MIT, offer courses in social skills in programs like Charm School. Here, students can learn workplace and interview etiquette as well as, if utilized well, gain a lead over their peers who do not have social skills.
If you would like to improve your social skills but do not have access to a program like Charm School, there are many ways to do so. Succeedsocially.com is a blog, written by a former shy and awkward man, to help those who are currently shy and awkward to branch out and become successful without the strain of insecurity and anxiety crippling them.
To help your children gain better social skills, do as suggested in my last post on social niceties, Homeschooling and the Social Effects, and let your kids have access to social situations! What better way for children to flourish than to jump headfirst and learn along the way, with peers who are learning just as they are.
For other ideas on incorporating social skills into your child’s life, here is a link to Twelve Activities to Help Your Child with Social Skills. Your child will not even realize they are engaging in social behavior when playing these games.
Remember: just because a college may not give you the tools you need to succeed socially, your whole life is not school and you are not limited because of it. There are many ways to improve socially outside of a school setting.