When my oldest was a junior in college I encouraged him to go to the Career Center to begin applying for internships. He informed me because he didn’t have a 3.5 GPA (3.3) he was ineligible to use the school for his search. How did we miss that when we were looking at schools? They certainly did not mention that on the newly accepted student day. What made me more enraged was he was accepted into the prestigious business program which had a more rigorous curriculum and yet if you were in less demanding programs and met the GPA requirement, you were eligible to purse business school positions. That was 2010.
Lets fast forward to 2020. Prior to Covid, colleges and universities were already feeling the financial pain due to decreased enrollment. A recent article in the NY Times, Colleges Slash Budgets in the Pandemic, With ‘Nothing OffLimits’, clearly depicts the current status of higher education institutions. So, why is this important to your student getting a job upon graduaton?
On most campuses, the Career Center is the lowest funded department on campus. Hard to believe because isn’t that the end game. We send out kids to school and then they get jobs, right? Actually career centers were never meant to be a full service, find a job for your kid, kind of place. They couldn’t be as the counselor to student ratio on most cases is 1 to 1700. ( That number has most likely become more dismal since Covid) It was during Presidents Obama’s term due to the rising costs of college, the increasing student debt and the high percentage of grads unemployed, colleges began to feel the pressure to get kids jobs. That’s when they turned to ways to bring in more jobs and utilize technology to prepare students.
Don’t get me wrong. I have met hundreds of Career Center Directors in my travel with my company, Class2Career. They are dedicated professionals who WANT to do whatever they can for students. They have been given mission impossible with a lack of resources and funding. They do the best they can with the students who utilize the Centers. Oops….yeah, forgot to tell you – on most campuses it’s not mandatory to utilize the Career Center. Both of my grads claim they didn’t know where it was on their campus. Most schools don’t have a checks and balance system measuring who utilizes the service and who does not.
It might surprise you the low number of schools that have career development courses. For many that do, it’s not always mandatory to take the course. Hats off to those who offer the programs and make it mandatory to graduate. Navigating ones way through Job Hood is a jungle especially for your grads who don’t have a CLUE how to do it, with some taking advice from former grads, parents and friends who can actually help, while the rest attempt to play at a game they don’t understand the rules. A career development program seems like a no brainer.
Finally, it is interesting how all schools seem to boast of 99% placement. Make sure you understand what that means. Those percentages includes those continuing to grad school (many because they didn’t find a job), Teach for America, Peace Corp, military, jobs not in their majors and underemployment jobs. The real number of students who are placed in industry benchmark paid jobs in their majors or interest is a number they don’t publish because it’s low. Students with loans take jobs they shouldn’t so they can meet their financial obligations. That starts the long- term trap of a low pay cycle.
In a prior article I wrote on the importance of, “Being Involved with Your Student in Landing their First Job.” If you read it you might have thought – but the Career Center is helping them. You are correct, the Career Center does help those who utilize it, but trust me this is not something you fully outsource. Every parent and guardian needs to get involved, show concern, partner with your grad, work with them to help them get where they want to go. Weren’t you the parent who once said, “Why doesn’t my kid ask for my help?”
Like everything in life, you have to work for what you want. Angela Duckworth, psychologist wrote the book Grit- The Power of Perseverance and Persistance. Even in the worst economic times, the grads who apply themselves in the job search, get jobs.