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Real-World Skills

College Skills in the Real World 

The American Association of Colleges and Universities conducted a 2021 study on the desirability and competitiveness of college graduates in the workplace.  In this article, the Association examines which college-acquired experiences and skills best predicate employee excellence. 

At least 90% of employers view the following skills as “very important” or “somewhat important” to the workplace: teamwork 

  • critical thinking
  • data analysis and interpretation 
  • applying learning in real-world settings 
  • digital literacy 

Many of these are related to social awareness and the practical application of knowledge.  This is reinforced by the fact that 90% of employers are either “much more” or “somewhat more” likely to consider applicants with apprenticeship or internship experience.  In other words, extra-curricular engagement with academic material is crucial to developing real-world habits. 

Similarly, 55% viewed self-awareness as “very important”.  88% of employers reported that they are either somewhat (47%) or much (41%) more likely to consider candidates who’ve had experience in community settings with people from diverse backgrounds.  

Why Humanities? 

In a 2018 study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S), college graduates with bachelor's in humanities have been found to fill occupations very broadly, just like their STEM counterparts.  Despite public negative perceptions of college degrees, steadily declining liberal arts degree laureates, and the common stereotypes about the “useless” liberal arts degree (Gallup, 2018), the study found humanities graduates to be successfully obtaining career-focused jobs.  The survey found that humanities graduates occupied in administrative support and offices, in management, and in sales positions (AAA&S, 2018).  For a report on industry projections for occupations related to area and language studies, view this page.  

It is clear that interpersonal skills, including awareness of oneself and others, are highly desirable in the workplace.  The widespread demand for intercultural skills is becoming increasingly clear, not just in global education experiences but also in the workplace (AACU, 2021). 

Developing Your Skills for the Workplace

What Ohio State Offers 

In order to prepare students for a rapidly globalizing world, Ohio State University has been conducting ongoing research on the most effective methods for the development of intercultural competence.  In order to test the effectiveness of these new learning outcomes, the research team applied them to various humanities courses and measured growth from the beginning to the end of the course, finding an increase in competency. 

With the introduction of new Arts and Sciences GE requirements for the ‘21-‘22 school year, students will be engaging with global citizenship, diversity, and justice.  By standardizing these learning outcomes, the University hopes to give its graduates their best chance at success in life.  As these are topics to be lived and not just taught, the University also facilitates and encourages extracurricular involvement with intercultural studies, including study abroad and Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). 

Confirming the academic benefits, the Institute of International Education conducted a study finding a correlation between undergraduate study abroad and higher graduation rates and GPA (IIE, 2020). This result was especially present in underrepresented populations, in which minority students who study abroad performed significantly better than those who didn’t. This increase in performance was also notably greater than the increase in performance between non-minorities who studied abroad and those who didn’t. Though all groups benefited, this discrepancy highlights the importance of equity and accessibility. 

For this reason, Ohio State provides many resources, including need-based and merit-based scholarships, advising appointments, and info sessions, for all students looking to study abroad. For more information, visit the Office of International Studies Global Education page. You may also contact the office at globaledspecialist@osu.edu or 614-292-6101.  

Integrating International Experiences into Your Resume


Writing Proposals



Humanities Degrees Declining Worldwide Except at Community Colleges. (2021, June 14). American Academy of Arts & Scienceshttps://www.amacad.org/news/humanities-degrees-declining-worldwide-except-community-colleges

Jones, J. Confidence in Higher Education Down Since 2015. (2018, Oct 9). Galluphttps://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/242441/confidence-higher-education-down-2015.aspx

Occupational Distribution of Terminal Bachelor’s Degree Holders, by Field of Bachelor’s Degree. (2018). American Academy of Arts & Scienceshttps://www.amacad.org/publication/humanities-workforce-beyond/section/5

University System of Georgia’s CASSIE project shows positive impact of international education on student success IIE Research, Evaluation & Learning. Institute of International Education. (2020, Oct). https://iie.widen.net/s/9jltpdtxxt