Since so many students have large college loans, they must be concerned about the employers and jobs that will be available to them when they graduate. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the students who are not burdened with loans are not also concerned with landing good jobs. I’ve said this before, but it still holds true. In the end, most college students only want three things:
1. A good college education
2. An enjoyable college experience
3. A great job when they graduate
Unfortunately, there are colleges that have trouble achieving all three. Some colleges are known for academic excellence. Others offer large numbers of activities, clubs and parties. Only a few have a reputation for having systems in place to ensure that large numbers of students obtain well-paying jobs with desirable employers that will have advancement opportunities.
Until college leaders change their minds and place a greater value on student employment success, they will not change their behavior. Nobody can effectively change their behavior before they change their minds.
Skeptical leaders always resist change. It scares them. Change usually scares us all until we understand it and believe that the change will make things better for us. That is the challenge.
How can college leaders identify and understand the changes that will both result in greater student employment success and make things better for themselves? Money, manpower and time are issues that are always brought up. However, the most important factors are “wanting to make things better” and “looking for and identifying the things that have to be changed.” Colleges that can’t or won’t do one or both of those things will never improve the employment success of their students.
To improve student employment success, colleges must:
1. Recognize that students are quite limited in their knowledge about job search preparation activities and what, how, when and why they should be done.
2. Accept the fact that the college (a learning institution) is where students spend most of their time and where they expect to receive the information, help and guidance they will need for their employment search.
3. Agree that job search preparation instruction and guidance is in large part the responsibility of the college as a whole, not just students and the people in Career Services.
4. Understand that students must compete against other candidates for the best jobs in their fields of interest. Simply having earned a degree with good grades is often not enough.
5. Believe that their college will benefit when larger numbers of students land desirable jobs with respected employers.
To Help Students Find Greater Employment Success, Colleges Should:
6. Help students identify and select a career direction that matches up with their capabilities and interests not later than their sophomore year. When students wait too long to identify a career direction, there may be little or no time left for clearly focused job search preparation activities. Late decisions may also require extra time in college and additional college loans.
7. In the 1st or 2nd year of college, ask students to purchase and read a book that explains the entire employment process, including job search preparation strategies and efforts. Career Services should suggest one.
8. Early on, require students to draft a personal budget for independent living after college. That will make them think about the coming expenses and give them an idea about the minimum starting salary they will require. A sample budget form can be supplied by Career Services, so students can fill in the blanks.
Having a realistic budget, will encourage students to determine two things: 1) Does the selected career direction have desirable entry level jobs that will meet their budget requirements? and, 2) Do those jobs have good growth potential and a career path?
Qualified students should not blindly enter careers and accept employment offers that make it too difficult for them to live on their own and pay back college loans or offer little salary and career growth potential.