The world is tougher for a 21st century student
Carly Guy is the Vice-Principal WINC and Academic Quality Manager at University of Bolton Academic Centre, RAK.
This era is faced-paced, technology drenched, ever-evolving and fiercely competitive. How do the students now handle these challenges and how does it compare with the education of our parents and grandparents?
Media is influencing our lives like never before, bringing in both the opportunities and threats waiting for us should we take the chance to step outside. The intrusive nature of social media nudges at our insecurities like a persistent SWOT analysis of what we are expected to be, should be, how we should behave and, most importantly, what we should achieve when we compare ourselves to everyone else's self-portrayals.
Just consider this - our parents and grandparents never needed to manipulate their pictures, that wasn't even an option - it was enough to have the financial and practical means to capture that moment just for their own personal memories.
Students today are expected to account for every aspect of their lives, broadcasting on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter the tweaked, filtered advertisements of our achievements as if it were a picture-perfect window into our lives - or at least the lives we want everyone else to believe we have.
Families have become more dispersed as the opportunity to move away from home for work and living opens up on the other side of the world. For many, attaining a degree and becoming financially secure means sacrificing important family interactions, which could help us remain true to our inner selves.
Video calling parents for a pep-talk or encouragement isn't quite the same as popping by and sitting with them in familiar surroundings. During our parents and grandparents' times, few travelled for a better life, better opportunity for their families; for some it was prohibitively expensive; for others, particularly women, it was deemed unnecessary or above their station.
The challenges to travelling looking for work included lack of finances, less options for quality education at an accessible price, and the obligations to support the family.
In my opinion, yes, the world could well be tougher for the 21st century student. They need to earn to live, study, and support those who depend on them. They also fight to stay true to themselves, live up to social media expectations and develop the professional, employability and personal skills to be resilient enough to withstand the competitive nature of global industry.
The challenges also are very different - students today need to be both generalists and specialists, well-rounded and well-read. The ultimate goal being that when entering the interview room, they have the attributes to outwit their opponents and join the flowing channels of the successful business world.
Carly Guy, PGDip, MSET, FInstLM, is the Vice-Principal WINC & Academic Quality Manager at the University of Bolton Academic Centre RAK.