Book by Bill Coplin
Review by Emily DeLano
Continuing Education
Grand Valley State University

In today’s economy, is college really worth its cost and time? For any academic advisor who has heard these words from puzzled students questioning higher education’s legitimacy, there is a now a relevant resource: Bill Coplin’s newly revised edition of 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College. Coplin provides students with copious amounts of evidence that college is an unparalleled learning experience, because it creates the opportunity to obtain crucial skill sets that employers desire. Coplin’s firsthand advising experience, paired with detailed interviews held with various professionals and employers, creates validity to his concepts. 

Coplin’s work is divided into three main parts. This first part explains ten college skill sets and where a student fits on the spectrum, from excelling to being a novice at a skill. The second part of his work teaches students how to gain competence in skills through picking the right college program, professors, internship, graduate school, and off-campus experiences. He concludes his book by explaining how to transfer skill sets to one’s resume, cover letter, networking, and interviewing practices; Coplin’s book provides detailed examples of each of these career tools.

One of many distinguishing features of this book is the amount of useful resources referenced, such as websites, organizations, and books, which are listed at the end of every chapter. This allows a student to delve into learning about a skill in as much depth as desired. With this gamut of resources, anyone who is interested or involved in higher education would benefit from reading this book: parents, first generation students, high school students, career counselors, and especially academic advisors. Concluding the skills chapters is a section that tells students what classes to take in order to flourish in a certain skill. This section provides academic advisors with specific skills that are being developed in almost every class—which is a perfect tool for when students ask what is the purpose of classes they are disinterested in.

One resource that was not included for the skill labeled “taking responsibility” is an innovative book, The Defining Decade, which challenges society’s popular fallacy that one’s twenties are the new careless teen years (Jay, 2012); Jay’s book is an irreplaceable motivational tool for advisors who have students who are seventh year seniors and have no intention of leaving college. Coplin’s networking section could have included the impact of e-portfolios, participating in a gap year, or blogging. Incorporating focus groups of students who followed Coplin’s skill set development theories would have added more legitimacy to his work. Furthermore, a chapter explaining if these skill sets transcend to other countries would be helpful for students living in an increasingly globalized world.

This book shatters students’ ability to only think about what is currently going on in their lives and refocuses them on seeing every choice they make as an investment in the rest of their life. Coplin (2012) explains, “Course work and degree requirements will provide less than 50 percent of the skills required to be successful in whatever career field you choose” (p. 133).  The other fifty percent comes from skill set development that is showcased in his book. There is more to college than just the diploma; thus, advisors should be avid advocates of intentional skill set development.

Jay, M. (2012). The defining decade: Why your twenties matter—and how to make the most of them now. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.

10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College. (2012). Book by Bill Coplin. Review by Emily DeLano. New York City: Random House. 272 pp. Price $14.99. ISBN # 978-1-58008-524-3

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