I have written before about the importance of Excel and how it is neglected in many of our high schools and even colleges as a necessary part of the curriculum. My recent experience in front of 800 parents and newly admitted students in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University suggests that things are getting worse. I asked the students to raise their hands if they could use Excel. Less than 20 percent of the students who were good enough to be admitted to the University raised their hands as their parents watched in horror.
The failure of our schools to prepare students for the real world, where business, government and non-profits rely on spreadsheets, does not seem to be a top reform priority of our politicians and school administrators. But it should be. Students with good Excel skills will get better internships and part-time jobs more quickly, and we all know how important internship and job experience is.
Where does the blame lie? From reliance on standardized testing, to a curriculum still tied to the Middle Ages, there is plenty of blame to go around. They will eventually learn that “Excel is Life,” but at what cost?