What College Can’t Teach


If you’re anything like me, your life roadmap was long ago coated in bacon grease and tinged with day old coffee grounds. The general picture is discernible. You can see an amalgamation of streets, loosely constructing a little world, contained within the much larger fold out piece of paper. But the street names are hazy. The map is full of those annoying roundabouts and double diamonds, and you can’t tell where they deposit you. Point A and point B lack a conjoining intersection. In fact, point B might have long ago been ripped from the map in your frustrated rage at trying to see through the stains (or you bought the wrong map entirely, in which case this is the wrong article for you, but maybe I’ll write another when I too discover having bought the wrong map).

You went to college on a hunch. It was the best possible decision at the time, an educated guess based on the general direction of the streets still visible to you. Parents, teachers, administrators, coaches, and the condescending old lady that ordered from your McDonalds every Sunday all told you that college was the ticket to a better life. Stay in school. Hit the books. Succeed. And yet, here you stand years later wondering if you took a wrong left turn. You don’t feel prepared for anything outside the Ivory Tower.

With that I’ll cease my well-intended, poorly strung together attempt at a metaphor. In all seriousness, the necessity and even, dare I say it, base value of attending college has been consistently called into question as employers and recent graduates alike reimagine the changing landscape of the market and value of an outdated model of higher learning. I don’t aim to agree or disagree with the critics. What I will do is give my blunt, honest, personal assessment of the areas where college failed my closest peers and me. Too often, these types of critiques are written by people years removed from the college experience, and firmly entrenched in their profession. I hope my relatively fresh worldview—as a current student nearing graduation and still frantically trying to connect the dots in career—will provide an interesting point of view. So with that said, here’s a sage bit of advice from a novice.

  1. How To Fail

College is creating a risk averse generation. Millennials as a whole report lower proportions of business owners under the age of 30 than any generation before them. This is the byproduct of an education system that prides standardized test scores, high GPAs, a laundry list of extracurriculars, and basically anything and everything that can stand-in to create a strong line on an application. Kids are taught that they must attend the best school, that they must move on to graduate school, that they must be in a constant state of high scholastic achievement. The notion of trial and error, that education is about failing and learning from it, has failbeen expelled. College teaches students to follow a prescribed path and outdo their peers while doing it. Is it any wonder that employers find these people maladjusted and unsuited to hit the curveballs that come their way? They don’t throw curveballs on a linear path.

  1. How to Find Productive Uses of Your Time

Oh the horror of the term paper deadline. College is all about budgeting time, embellishing and fabricating, tinkering with the font and the margins. It’s all about learning to complete things on time and to the best of our abilities. It’s the art of time management, learning to cope with being overwhelmed. That is a fine skill to have. And yet, not all work cultures are of the “task delegation” variety. In fact, I would argue that the most rewarding careers are ones that stress autonomy and independence. The problem here is that a productivecollege student has very likely spent four years being given tasks and completing them. Rinse and repeat. Schedule classes, fulfill requirements, prosper. Unfortunately, it is a more useful skill to be able to diagnose an area where your services could help the company, and then to set out and do it without being ordered. College seldom fosters this independent spirit.

  1. Personality Trumps Proficiencies/ There’s Always Someone More Skilled

Walk in on any resume building workshop and you’ll be inundated with advice on how to advertise yourself by your skills and proficiencies. How many resumes have gone to die in the recycling bin that were stuffed with things like Java, C++, HTML, Stata, SPSS, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.? I don’t mean to devalue these things. One needs these skills to be successful in anything they do. But skills and proficiencies—the “what” that you learn—are only the bedrock upon which your career success lies. These things get you in the door, for an interview, or perhaps a job if you’re lucky. But take head of the simple fact that there will most likely always be someone who is better than you, just as good, or cheaper at a particular skill. To really advance in career, to lead a fulfilling life, to make it so that you are valuable and always employable, personality trumps any specialty. A person with a creative, innovative, and hard-working disposition will succeed. A person who knows how to network, is forward thinking and ahead on trends, will be valuable and respected. You must incline yourself to life learning and know where to focus your time and energy. Again, college fails in this regard by Personality-at-work2reducing an education to simple asset accumulation. It teaches that a degree, a certification, a line on a resume creates value. In reality, value is constantly worked towards and maintained. That is 100% determined by disposition.

  1. How to Deal with Eternity

Finally, college is the final period of your life with a definite beginning and end. It has a linear progression and a crowning “achievement” signifying completion. Work life can be as cut and dry or as chaotic as possible, it depends on your particular set of choices and random chance (luck). But this much is clear: there is no definite “end” to work towards. And there’s no guarantees either. Sure, you could work to climb the corporate ladder, taking each promotion as your “end” or “achievement.” But there is no guarantee of promotion, or even a timeline of when one many happen. It is quite dissimilar from the “expected graduation date” you’ve become accustomed to. The milestones, like graduating and landing the first job, become fewer and fewer. Is retirement the end to which you now work towards? In short, college does not prepare you for existential crisis. It’s up to you to create meaning, to create value, to create goals in your work life. You decide what is important. You decide your timetables. You learn to cope with what is and what is to come. It is no longer provided for you.


In summation, college creates the bedrock. But it struggles to foster creativity, independence, maturity, and a complex understanding of the world and your place in it. College is too structured, providing too much too easily to too many people.

To leverage your college experience to make yourself valuable and prepare for the world outside the ivory tower, take more risks. Experiment more. Study independently. Intern. Try different jobs. Read more and don’t take the advice of the guidance counselor as gospel.


PIKEVILLE, KY – (November 17, 2015) As part of Small Business Appreciation Month, the Chamber partnered with the Kentucky Innovation Network in Pikeville to host two free small business workshops: “Protecting Your Business Data with Cloud Computing” and “Take Your Products Online without Breaking the Bank.”

The workshop “Protecting Your Business Data with Cloud Computing” featured several ways to protect valuable business data with inexpensive online backup solutions through various software programs such as Dropbox and other cloud based data storage systems.

“Take Your Products Online without Breaking the Bank” workshop discussed how small businesses with limited budgets can have a safe, professional, and affordable online presence. Organizations can create a website and storefront through a variety of cost-effective services such as Squarespace, Weebly, GoDaddy, and others.

The audience included small business owners and managers. They were able to get important questions answered and received tips on how to make their business more successful. The Chamber strives to help connect small business owners and entrepreneurs to free resources that can help grow their business.

Small Business Appreciation Month is presented by Community Trust Bank and will continue through the month of November.

Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (SEKC) is committed to improving the local economy, regional unity, political advocacy, and economic development; ultimately, improving the quality of life for citizens of the entire region. With over 550 member businesses that employ 25,000+ employees in 8 counties, SEKC provides a support network for businesses in Southeast Kentucky.

Less Death Stars, More Wobbly Towers: How Legos Create Innovators and Dreamers

“When does a kid ever get to play with a stick anymore?” the late comedian/philosopher/all around cool dude George Carlin once opined in his diatribe on what he cleverly labeled “child worship.” To Carlin, today’s professional helicopter parents had become obsessively devoted to their children’s success, taking away the natural, unprompted act of play and replacing it with “play dates,” “recitals,” “practices,” and “lessons.” Thus, even the simplest, most spontaneous, freest expression of childhood innocence, wonder, and creativity had been rigidly planned, overscheduled, and over managed.

I decry the sorry state of American creativity and ingenuity often. This isn’t to say that we aren’t in a golden age of innovation, because technological disruption is proceeding at a lightning pace never before seen in human history. But we aren’t maximizing our potential, given the opportunities available to us. I feel that Carlin’s idea sits at the core of the problem: we have tried too hard to create great thinkers, and have thus deprived them of the tools to think. We diagnose a problem, like our crumbling infrastructure, and prescribe the solution that we need more STEM majors. That’s fine. Technical skills are a must when we strive to battle these dilemmas. But we miss the point when we belittle the arts. We take it a step too far by constantly insinuating that a STEM degree is the skeleton key to success, and Liberal Arts students are all doomed to work at Wal-Mart. We take it a step too far when we ask kids to join clubs and profession organizations, instead of just playing with their sticks. We take it a step too far when we demand high-standardized test scores and GPAs, and never ask these kids to solve problems independently.


We don’t lack smart people. In fact, millennials are the most educated generation ever. We have an overabundance of insanely educated, incredibly intelligent people. What we lack are visionaries. Creators. Rebels who drew invention blueprints or comedic doodles on your fancy standardized tests. We aren’t fostering that. We are demanding a way to quantify progress in the form of charts, tables, figures, and statistics instead of new creations.

Summed up succinctly, Legos explain the problem. Playing with Legos is all about designing, building,experimenting, thinking outside the box, destroying and starting over. It is about imagining, dreaming, thinking outside the box. It is about free styling and dolegoing what you want. It teaches kids to think in three dimensions, to employ problem-solving skills, boosts motor development, and enhances communication as kids work in teams to build great monuments to their own originality.


And yet, the Legos of my childhood—the wide-open, free-build, box of assorted parts variety of Legos—have largely been replaced by the same troubling trend towards structure. There are too many well-defined Lego “kits” with careful instructions, and pre-defined shapes. Kids death stardon’t need to build another Death Star, or another Hogarts Castle. What kids need is to struggle to build their wobbly tower, knock it over, and try again.

Build-Ready Site Certified in Graves County to Fast-Track New Industrial Investment

Commonwealth of Kentucky Office of the Governor


Terry Sebastian

Jennifer Brislin

Jack Mazurak

Build-Ready Site Certified in Graves County to Fast-Track New Industrial Investment

State program focused on property, permit prep aims to make locating in Kentucky the clear choice

 FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 16, 2015) – A site certified as Build-Ready in Graves County’s Hickory Industrial Park stands as the latest in a series of locations endorsed through a Kentucky program promising to slice months from new-facility construction, Governor Steve Beshear announced today.
The 15-acre site, about 5 miles north of Mayfield, includes a pad prepared specifically for an industrial and office facility of up to 125,000 square feet. Its Build-Ready certification takes care of required permits and studies, as well as ensures infrastructure and utilities extend to the site.

“Certification by Kentucky’s Build-Ready Program signals to companies they can select, build and open a business quickly and efficiently. Employers looking to add new production locations, and the consultants who advise them, can do no better than to consider our stock of Build-Ready certified sites offered by forward-thinking communities such as Graves County,” Gov. Beshear said.

With the Graves County site’s recent certification, Kentucky now offers six Build-Ready sites. Efforts toward certification continue on more than a half-dozen others.

Build-Ready means a site includes a pad 50,000 square feet or greater, expandable to 100,000 square feet or more, utilities extended to an edge of the site, and the necessary permits and studies are in place including water, building, phase-1 environmental, archeological, historical and geotechnical.

The applicant – usually a city, county or economic-development group – must also provide preliminary design work, a total-cost projection, construction timeframes and a rendering of a potential building for the site.

“On a Build-Ready site, construction can begin almost immediately. Certification provides an advantage because the owner already accomplished most requirements,” said Mandy Lambert, business development commissioner at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, which administrates the program.

“That’s important since companies want quick turnaround – from the initial decision to build to the ribbon-cutting at opening. Our Build-Ready Program gives Kentucky the upper hand in competing with other states for those jobs and investments,” Lambert said.

The Cabinet conceived the Build-Ready Program about a year and a half ago. In planning, Cabinet employees solicited input from a range of professionals for aspects that make sites most attractive.

Ryan Drane, president of Graves County Economic Development, contacted the Cabinet this summer about getting the Hickory Industrial Park site certified. Within a couple months, he received the certification.

“This Build-Ready designation signals to prospective companies that both Graves County and the State of Kentucky understand the importance of time and preparation in the site selection process,” Drane said. “By investing our resources in advance, the company can shave months off its construction schedule and begin hiring employees, making their product and securing profits in record time.”

While preparations require some investment by the applicant, the cost is significantly less than designing and constructing a speculative building.

“We are encouraged to see our community receive a Build-Ready site certification,” said Sen. Stan Humphries, of Cadiz. “With this certification, it makes the process that much easier for a prospective business to locate to Graves County. The companies already located in the Hickory Industrial Park, along with the great rail, interstate, port and air access within about a 30-mile radius, make this location a very attractive place for a new development.”

Rep. Richard Heath, of Mayfield, agreed.

“As we continue to compete for jobs, not only in the region but with surrounding states like Tennessee, it’s essential that we explore all ways to promote Graves County as a great place to do business,” Heath said. “This designation will help our local economic development leaders to streamline the permitting and construction process for a new company to locate at our industrial park.”

“Graves County Fiscal Court is excited about the Build-Ready site located in the Hickory Industrial Park. This Build-Ready site is designed to add options for industrial development that will be extremely attractive to prospective clients,” Graves County Judge Executive Jesse Perry said.

Kentucky’s other Build-Ready sites include tracts in the Highland Glen Industrial Park in Barren County, the Bluegrass Crossings Regional Business Centre in Ohio County, the 4 Star Regional Industrial Park in Henderson, and two in Bowling Green’s Kentucky Transpark.

More information on the Build-Ready Program and the six certified sites is available at www.selectkentucky.com/buildready. As well, the Cabinet lists more than 250 shovel-ready sites at www.selectkentucky.com.

A detailed community profile for Graves County can be viewed here.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.