Letter to Parents: How to Maximize your College Investment for your Student

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Dear Parents of College Students,

As founders of Class2Career, we had an idea.  We saw a gap between one’s personal achievements and the inability to translate those experiences into sellable skills to an employer in an interview.  The interview became a review of one’s resume and the applicant’s real story never emerged.  Great kids with amazing stories were being left behind because they failed to sell themselves and counted heavily on recruiters to get them.

So, we created a tool to coach students how to do this. Whoever uses Class2Career, quickly gets it! This unlocks their confidence and motivates them to want to interview.

We were both in the corporate America space and have done recruiting for companies including our own.  We had never worked with colleges directly, except as recruiters interviewing kids on campuses.   As we went from campus to campus we learned so much of the inner workings of Career Centers.  We want to share what we learned so you will know how your student can take advantage of what’s available because you have paid for it! There is a lot of help and support that is underutilized.

We also want you to be aware of these very important steps BEFORE your student even enters college!

First, just because you spent $100k, $200k or whatever to finance a college education this does NOT mean your student will get a job.  Each college boasts of a high % of students being placed within 6 months of graduation.   Those numbers include students going to grad school, several volunteer programs i.e. Teach America ……Most importantly, these numbers don’t completely quantify MEANINGFUL jobs or a job in their field of study.  You will want to drill down into these numbers.  You have made an investment in this school and you are privy to this type of information.

Now for some facts on the Career Center at your college of choice.  NACE, National Association of Colleges and Employers, estimates today’s College Career Counselor to student ratio 1-1700 – yes – 1 to 1700 meaning this is mission impossible. Now, several schools have made an investment in this to drive this number down in the past few years.  In addition, the Career Center is not the most funded department on campus, yet they hold one of the largest responsibilities to the college’s ROI (return on investment).  Remember Career Services used to be just that….a service. Now with the high costs of a college education there has been a shift to an expectation that students get jobs when they graduate.

The funding piece is slower to come as reallocation of funds must be reviewed, but make no mistake, getting kids jobs is a top priority on all campuses.  The personnel we met in Career Centers are probably the hardest working, most dedicated lot we have ever come across.   But again, they are working on limited resources so, they are judicious in how they spend their dollars.

Here is where your management and involvement come in.  You have to insure your student is maximizing any and all resources available to them to get jobs and internships.

 Many students never engage with the Career Center for these reasons:

On most colleges there is no mandatory meeting with the Career Center before graduation – yes – your student could graduate and never darken the doorstep of the Career Center.

There are only a very small percentage of colleges who offer a Career Development program – Ask this question as you visit colleges.  How do they teach their students how to navigate the getting a job process?  If your student decides on a school that does not have a Career Development Program, how will they learn what they need to do?

Often, a Career Development Program is not mandatory to attend – If there is a program, make sure your student has this as one of their credits.  We would recommend taking the course as early as possible.   The earlier they learn what to do, the more time they will have to practice.

Most upperclassmen who have had little to no success with the career centers will advise their younger peers not to waste their time – Career Centers have a bad rap.  Maybe one day a student went in for help because they had an interview the next day and was told…. you should have come earlier. Boom – the program takes its place on the list of items never to partake in college.  It may also not be COOL to be a Career Center visitor.  Your student needs to understand a relationship with this department is critical to their success.  Employers call Career Centers looking for kids and if your kid is there all the time they will think of him/her.

Several schools do not let students interview for jobs without having a certain cumulative average –

If this is a policy you need to know this upfront.  Some curriculums are harder than others.  For example, someone in the business school may have a tougher time maintaining a 3.5 average over someone in liberal arts.  What that means is a finance student with a 3.0 average may be rejected from interviewing for a finance job; however, a liberal arts major with a 3.5 will be eligible even though it’s not his or her major.

One of the jobs of the Career Center was soliciting jobs.  They would form a relationship with local companies who would use their schools to hire from. When a job was received from an employer then the Career Center would POST the job for students to see.  Over the past several years the trend has been to go to job aggregators like Handshake, Simplicity and several others. You need to know what your student’s school is using and if they have registered.   This is showcased as a positive because now instead of the Career Center posting the job – jobs are now posted online by the employers and visible to all users of the software.  Career Centers can continue to have relationships with hiring entities to drive more jobs to their schools.   This is sold as instead of only getting the local jobs – students will now be able to see jobs posted around the country as employers are signing up for the service and posting jobs on a daily basis.  This is great…..right?…..not really.

What parents and students need to understand is job aggregators do increase the number of jobs….

However don’t forget the pool of applicants just got a lot larger.  Every employer who subscribes to the service is given the opportunity to post their jobs at any school using the aggregator service.  In addition because the employers pay for the service they are given access to see students input when they sign up for the service to include resume, year of graduation, internships, etc. and able to cull the best of the best.  Your student is now competing with all schools for local jobs.

That’s fine – as long as you know this.  Now that you understand what is happening, you must insure your student is positioning themselves in the strongest way they can.  They must focus on getting internships to make their resume appealing and they must also be maintaining a high cumulative average in order to be selected for an interview by an employer.

Although this may all seem elementary, the cry….:”I didn’t know that” is often heard by seniors as they get to their final semester.  It’s too late!

To further exasperate the situation, we’ve learned of the HIDDEN JOB MARKET.  This will really concern you.

More than 60% of jobs on the internet, company websites or job aggregators on college campuses are already filled by the time they are posted.  Employers are using their own employees to bring in qualified candidates.  Where are these candidates coming from you ask?  Parents and students are using their connections in companies and are networking with them to help get interviews with executives in the company.   Meanwhile, your students are madly sending in resumes and calling companies for a chance to interview and his job is going to someone who knows someone. Networking is not widely taught on most college campuses –  yet, it is the most important piece of the interviewing process.

Schools building new buildings are moving to a trend to have the Admissions Office and the Career Center appear to be “connected”.  This is a great trend however in order for it to work they must devise ways to insure students are exposed to the reality of today’s job market and what has to be done to get a job in their field of interest.  Parents and guardians are the real link to getting this to happen.

I know when we sent our kids off to college there was a sign of relief.  We had made it this far and they were now going to college.  Admit it, once you wrote that tuition check, you checked out.  You thought – ok – I brought him/her this far so now it’s up to ABC College to now bring him/her to the finish line.  Hopefully this insight into what is really happening in the job preparation world will enlighten and inform you that your job is not over…..it will probably never be over.  If after graduation your student is living in your basement unemployed, it’s your own fault.  Continue to be the helicopter parent as it relates to insuring your student is choosing a school that supports all aspects of getting a job and all that is offered is being taken advantage of.  I have heard of parents attending college advisory meetings with their students and that is just too much. So, if you are doing that, stop it.   You can coach from afar.  You sent them to college to not only get the education but also the social skills and now the survival skills.  They have to learn this on their own.

Before you make that enormous investment into your student’s education make sure you understand what the school will do for your student.  Without a money back guarantee if not fully satisfied, one must read the fine print and ask the tough questions before writing the check.

Thank you for reading – hope this was helpful!

 

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