By Karlyn Borysenko, Leadership Content Director
Last year, our 2013 College Bound Market Update revealed that for the first time, career preparation was the top driver of college enrollment among traditional-aged undergraduate students, beating out core academics, the social environment, and affordability:
With the value of a college degree more in doubt than ever before, it is incumbent on colleges and universities to prepare students for life beyond graduation. At Eduventures, we do not believe that utility is, or should be, the primary purpose of a college education. However, we do believe that colleges and universities should integrate career preparation into their student experience in a way that goes beyond the freshman seminar on creating your resume.
The schools that will be most successful at developing their students’ professional abilities will integrate career preparation throughout the student experience, starting from the moment they arrive on campus. Here are some of our favorite examples:
UC San Diego recently integrated its Career Services Center with its office of Alumni and Community Engagement as part of a strategic initiative to leverage their alumni base to help students find jobs and make connections. “Our outreach efforts will inspire the alumni community to engage with the educational, career and professional development of UC San Diego students and serve as key providers of internships and employment,” added Armin Afsahi, assistant vice chancellor for Alumni and Community Engagement. “In turn, graduates will be encouraged to create a lifelong relationship with their alma mater.”
The University of Evansville offers “end-to-end” career development. It starts during the student recruitment process with the Career Advantage Program (CAP) (link to http://www.evansville.edu/careerdevelopment/careerAdvantage.cfm ) for prospective students and their families, before they even decide to enroll. Once they arrive, the Advanced Career Education (ACE) Certificate program guides students through a self-paced career development program and recognizes their efforts for successful completion. In recognition of their commitment this effort, the University recently received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc to support their Center for Career Development that will allow them to create three new programs focused on developing relationships with local employers.
Sweet Briar College embraces a highly personalized approach to career services. Since the campus is small, staff members are able to reach out to each student individually beginning in their freshman year to get them involved with the career center and their programming. The College hosts regular events focused around major groups that bring together students, faculty, employers, and alumni from common areas for a panel and networking. Students also have access to The Four Year Plan, an online , self-guided program to get them ready for life beyond graduation. Senior Director of Career Services Wayne Stark emphasizes that it’s critical to involve all campus stakeholders, from admissions to alumni, and get them excited about the possibilities: “You have to work by example. Get out there and go to your alumni officer to see how you can partner. Get over to admissions and see how you can partner with them at prospect events. Use your enthusiasm to rally people around it. Then do the things you say you’re going to do. You’ll build a reputation, gain their trust, and make a difference. And then the students see that, and they get excited.”
Misericorida University offers the Guaranteed Placement Program, which guarantees that if students who participate fully in the program all four years – including learning to build their resumes, learn professional etiquette, and complete mock interviews with real employers – do not receive a job offer or enter graduate school within six months of graduation, the University will provide them with a paid internship in their chosen field.
At Bentley University, nearly 90% of freshman take part in the CDI101 class, which allows them to build out their own comprehensive career toolkit, participate in mock interviews, and deliver elevator pitches in front of corporate recruiters. It is the first step in the HIRE Education program that continues throughout their four year.
Your students do not have to choose a pre-professional degree to be prepared for the workforce after graduation. In fact, recent research has shown that graduates of liberal arts programs make more money in the long run. So, instead of focusing on programmatic offerings and classroom experience to develop workplace skills, think about creating an end-to-end career development experience that compliments your academic offerings and guides your students from the day they are accepted until the day they graduate.