What Business Schools Don't Teach Students But Should

Shocker: A student's entire college education shouldn't all come from overpriced textbooks.

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By Derrick Boone • Nov 15, 2013

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With finals around the corner, some college students are preparing to graduate and begin their careers.

Whether they are deciding to pursue an entrepreneurial venture, join a startup or take a path in the corporate world, cramming for those finals aren't the only thing they should be concerned about, at least for real-world purposes.

For years, some business schools have gotten away with just providing a textbook education but companies are looking for more than facts and figures. They want to see practical competence in the practice of business, like teamwork skills, along with character strength.

Related: Why Your College Student Should Start a Business

For college students looking to get a head start, here are a few skills to brush up on:

Dress the part.
At Wake Forest School of Business, where I'm a professor, we have a dress policy: business casual Monday through Thursday, smart casual on Friday and business professional when we have guest speakers. Why? Because that's what companies expect.

Depending on the career path you choose to pursue, make sure what you wear to class reflects the industry standard. By doing so, you come off as more professional to your professor and peers.

Know when technology is appropriate.
Many of our students fall into the millennial generation and have grown up in a digital world. They are adept at texting and tweeting, pros at posting selfies and addicted to being in constant, instantaneous contact with their environment.

The business world is different. You actually have to sit through an hour-long meeting without checking your cell phone, Facebook or instant-message platform.

Get into the habit at school. Learn to turn off your phones and pay attention. Not only will you show respect for your professor and classmates, but you will be more focused on what is happening in class. Hey, you might even learn something.

It's still about people and relationships.
Our digital world has replaced many things, including face-to-face interaction. But in the business environment, people still communicate with each other in-person.

To make it in the real world, developing communication skills is key. Learn how make small talk, network, get to know people and exercise humility and appreciation.

Be open to feedback.
No one likes criticism but being critiqued is something that is constantly occurring in workplace.

Just like companies, our business school has 360-degree assessments, or performance reviews. These assessments, done as a team and with faculty and staff input, provide feedback to let each student know what areas he or she needs to work on. While this practice isn't implemented in every college, it is starting to become more common.

Understandably, some feedback may sting, but it only makes people better. So if you are receiving an assessment, be receptive. Ask questions and be open to different perspectives.

What other tips do you have college students to prepare for the real world? Let us know in the comments below.

Derrick Boone

Derrick S. Boone Sr., is associate dean of the master of arts in management program and an associate professor of marketing at the Wake Forest University School of Business.

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