When the typical student looks back on what was done in the classroom throughout their time in high school, they may remember the seemingly endless preparation for standardized tests with little time for creative work or life lessons. Practical lessons like paying taxes, writing out a check and public speaking will most likely be absent from their schooling. Why is this so? Public speaking is an important skill that should be emphasized long before a student sets foot in college.

Beyond the university level, public speaking is an important skill to have in the workforce. More than half of today’s jobs that require a university-level degree require public speaking in some form. According to a Forbes survey, 70 percent of employed Americans say that presentation skills are critical for career success. Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo reacted by saying, “the other 30 percent just don’t know it yet.”

I was lucky enough to receive some public speaking education in high school, which I learned put me at an advantage over some classmates. During my first semester of college at Binghamton University, I took an introductory public speaking course for the oral communication general education requirement. Every assignment in the class consisted of making a speech for a certain topic. I was very confident, since I had luckily been exposed to doing assignments like these previously, but for the first few speeches, there was such a prominent look of fear in my fellow classmates’ eyes during their presentations.

It is very common for a student to enter college having never spoken in front of just a small group of people. If such a student were required to make a speech for one of their classes in college, they would have little to no confidence in their ability to succeed. This can make the oral communication requirement a nightmare for many BU students. While the specific course I was in proved to be helpful and everyone improved as the semester progressed, why should students be exposed to such an important skill so late in their education?

If oral presentations were to be implemented into the regular K-12 curriculum, there would be a higher chance that all Americans across the board would be exposed to public speaking by the time they make it to the workforce. This would mean cutting out time for test preparation in order to fit in time to learn this valuable life skill.

On the other hand, for certain college courses that are not communication-heavy or do not require it at all, it might be beneficial to somehow incorporate it into the curriculum by replacing some essays with presentations or other assignments that promote and emphasize communication skills. In our current system, this may help make up for the lack of emphasis on public speaking.

Having public speaking be a part of only certain high school programs and one general education requirement at certain universities is not enough to ensure that students in the United States are going into the workforce with confidence in their oral presentation skills. As both universities and grade schools are increasingly re-evaluating their teaching criteria, action must be taken to make speaking a more centralized aspect of education.

Brad Calendrillo is a sophomore majoring in English.