After all, to do research with a professor, a student has to have good social skills. So why not have classes that teach social etiquette and social skills? It seems that many courses in college are "book courses." Yet, when students graduate, what really matters is how they present themselves and their social skills.
During one's university life as an undergraduate, there are many opportunities to improve one's social skills and confidence as an adult. These range from the various sporting and political clubs students can join, through volunteer activities students can participate in, through coaching activities (of more junior students or even high school), all the way to activities like having a few drinks in the uni bar (soda, for US students). During the summer, one can participate in spring break-style activities or get an internship at a law firm.
All of these activities, I dare say, help shape a student into a person. There's no assessment, no assignments, no grades, but such is the school of hard knocks.
I heard that there where some (highly wanted) trials in Potsdam (maybe somewhere else):
Even the most quirky of computer nerds can learn to flirt with finesse thanks to a new "flirting course" being offered to budding IT engineers at Potsdam University south of Berlin.
The 440 students enrolled in the master's degree course will learn how to write flirtatious text messages and emails, impress people at parties and cope with rejection.
To name the (alleged) reasons, why university courses in social skills are so rare:
- many social skills can't be easily fitted into a course scheme,
- there is a common belief (with which I strongly disagree) that there is no such need (as its to late (not necessary) or people will learn it automatically (a wishful thinking)),
- there may be a huge difference in initial social skill levels (from one where no course is needed to one, when a course won't change things),
- teaching social skills may be difficult, as many things are very culturally- and context-dependent.
Personally, I regret that there were no social skills courses at my university (so I had to learn from books, mostly - undergraduate psychology). For me, as for many other STEM students, it was (relatively) easier to learn technical material "in the natural way", than social skills.
However, social skills (as any other skills), are the best to be honed in practice (at least after). There are many opportunities, e.g.:
- teamwork on any project (scientific or "just for fun"),
- running a students' chapter or club,
- organizing trips, excursions, movie nights, parties, ...,
- organizing a students' conference.