Securing a career requires more than just obtaining a college degree, it requires a graduate to think critically, analyze problems, and come up with innovative solutions. No matter what industry, job, or field you work in, these skills are fundamental to growth, sustainability, and relevance.
With over 20 years of experience in the music industry, and as the Entertainment Advisor of Bessie Smith’s Estate, Lindsay Guion cites his critical thinking skills as a primary source of his success. He takes the time to outline the importance of these skills and how they can contribute to a meaningful career.
Increased job security
Looking at the many advantages that accrue with post-secondary education, a pattern emerges. Lindsay Guion explains that individuals who pursue higher education will experience greater financial and employment security and more job opportunities. The average graduate is 24% more likely to be employed and their average earnings among graduates are $32,000 higher annually. Lindsay Guion explains that in addition to providing students with practical skills, a post-secondary education also provides students with critical thinking skills—which arguably goes further than subject studies alone.
Enhanced soft skills
Employers consistently report that along with specialized hard skills, the ever-shifting terrain of today’s labor market requires that students come out of university or college with transferable ‘soft skills’ in communication, team work, and most importantly: critical thinking. Lindsay Guion explains that critical thinking and written communication skills need to be developed and practiced over time.
According to a study conducted by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, soft skills take time to accrue, as students in later years fared better on critical thinking tests than students in their early years. A four year education through post-secondary education can provide students with the practice they need to develop these skills.
Critical thinking defined
Lindsay Guion explains that if you teach students how to make good decisions and equip them with the tools to improve their futures, they stand a better chance at success. But what does ‘critical thinking’ mean exactly? Lindsay Guion defines critical thinking as the analysis of facts to form a judgement or make a decision. While memorization definitely has many valuable uses, fostering critical thinking is just not one of them. Critical thinking is thinking that has a purpose. Someone who has developed critical thinking skills can understand the links between two ideas, determine the importance and relevance of arguments, identify inconsistencies, approach problems in a consistent and systematic way, and reflect on the justification of their own assumptions, beliefs, and values. How does a post-secondary education offer this? Through the way the education is structured.
Post-secondary education focuses on memorization, but also on developing critical thinking. Unlike the standardized testing associated with elementary and high school education, post-secondary focuses on essays, debates, and offers an arena where students can expand their previously held beliefs and opinions. In addition to an alternative approach to education, colleges give students increased responsibility, forcing them to take initiative. Tim Blackmore, a professor at Western University, explained that when critical thinking is removed from post-secondary education, “Education becomes indoctrination. Without critical thinking, you’re trying to impress upon people exactly what you want them to know, learn, and come away with. And that’s like building your own robot.”
Lindsay Guion has learned first-hand how important the development of ‘soft skills’ can be throughout your career. Adding value to every aspect of your life, a post-secondary education is a great way to practice these skills in an arena with your peers. Currently running the Bessie Smith Scholarship Fund, which will awarding three scholarships to students, Lindsay Guion believes in the immense value of a college education, and wants to help students achieve success no matter the adversity they face. The Bessie Smith Scholarship Fund deadline is August 31st, 2020, and aims to help students looking to gain meaningful life skills the opportunity to do so.