Businesses Should Act Like Universities, Not High Schools

Updated: Mar 10

I think about my time as a high school student, my time as a college student, and my time as a professional. College is widely considered "the best years of your life" by many. Why do you think that is? Aside from the partying, I have an idea.


In high school, we are constantly babysat by our parents, our teachers, and our coaches, seemingly watching every activity and telling us what we can and can't do. You spend 7 hours a day going through your predetermined schedule of classes, you eat lunch at the exact same time, and even if all your work is done, you sit through mandatory study halls.


By the time you enter college, you are fed up with the predictable, monotonous, daily routine and having your handheld through the whole thing. Then, all at once, you are given way more freedom AND way more responsibility. The constant questions about whether your homework is done stop. You learn to make sacrifices and enjoy the free time you have. You are held responsible for one number and one number only, your grade. Whatever it takes to make the grade.


And then, just as soon as you get used to making your own schedule, managing your time effectively, and getting work done at your own pace, you go back to the high school lifestyle. Managers constantly peering over your shoulder, asking questions. You're required to show up during an allotted period of time whether your work is done or not. It's no wonder employers have a hard time retaining good employees. They feel like they are being treated like children.


Bad News: Most businesses still operate as a high school. Show up from 8 am to 5 pm. Want to leave early? You better have a permission slip signed. Want to get out and stretch your legs? Gotta get a hall pass. Show up late? Go to detention. You have 2 study halls a day that you spend chatting up the others in the class when you could be home doing your chores.


Good News: A lot of businesses are starting to figure it out. Work from home policies are becoming more common. With the improvement of technology used to power businesses, reporting tools allow managers to monitor and coach their employees based on analytics without having to walk around the office slowly with their arms crossed behind their back. Companies are starting to adopt unlimited PTO policies.


Being one myself, I have to thank millennials for this movement. As much as people complain about their bad attitudes and lack of work ethic, this is the generation of asking why and coming up with innovative answers. Think about where this style of workplace environment started, Silicon Valley. Some of the most innovative businesses in the world employ new college graduates from the most prestigious universities in the country and have created an environment for them to be successful.

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