If a Career is the Objective of a College Education, Then Why Isn’t How to Conduct a Career Search Being Taught on Campus?

I recently read a terrific blog by David Kimmelman, founder of Student Career Quest of Boston, MA. In his blog, Kimmelman observed the investment in planning that went into the typical student’s selection of college and his or her course of study. As early as tenth grade, high school students and their parents begin researching schools, investigating top colleges lists, visiting different campuses, and looking at admission requirements. By my count, between the interviews, visits, research, essays, application process, and all the other things that must be done, the student has likely invested over 300 hours in the process of selecting the school they’ll attend for the next 4 years.

“Higher Ed today is so focused on the recruiting and admissions process that they tend to neglect some of the more important investments needed once a student does decide to attend their institution of higher learning.”

David Kimmelman, Founder, Student Career Quest
Blog: What College Students Really Need!

Students attend school for one significant reason: they believe that the education they receive will prepare them for their careers and result in greater employability and income opportunity.

According to our research, the average US college grad receives a bit less than 8 hours of instruction in career search, in order to prepare for obtaining employment for the next 40 years.

So I ask the question: if a student invests several hundred hours to select their school where they will spend four or so years receiving the training associated with their career objective, how much time should they spend learning about how to obtain employment in a career that will span about 40 years?

Most colleges and universities answer this question with a career services department that serves students and alumni, and that is a good start. NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, reported in 2012 that the average career services staff person supports 1,645 students. Schools tout their student/faculty ratios, where most are under 20:1. Yet the student/career services staff ratio is 1,645:1.

The average academic year has 32 weeks. At 1,645 students to a single career services staff member, he or she would be able to give each of the 1,645 students about 40 minutes a year, assuming career services did little else during the academic year.

But wait…its gets worse.

Most career services departments also support the school’s alumni base as well, and depending on how many decades of alumni are still in their employment years, the ratio of alumni to career services staff could top 5,000:1.

Moreover, career services is often the place colleges and universities look to trim staff when dealing with tight budgets. And there has been a lot of trimming of late.

But there is a solution! Here are three things that can make a huge difference for every student in America, and help revitalize higher education in the process.

Make Career Search Education Mandatory for every student who plans on entering the workforce upon graduation. Some schools have recognized this. Wake Forest, for example, teaches multiple required career education courses throughout a student’s educational career. A number of colleges are requiring students in specific majors to complete at least one semester of job search/career readiness education, including William Peace University, Santa Barbara Business College, Missouri State, Boise State, Virginia College, University of Cincinnati, Genesee Community College, and many others. You might only be able to squeeze 40 to 60 classroom hours into a single quarter or semester-long course, but it is a start. Homework can include actual career search activities. Here is a sample curriculum that has been successfully utilized as part of an accredited course on multiple campuses during the past year: From Classroom to Career.

Properly Resource Career Services by adding staff to better serve student and alumni populations. While not all students and alumni will utilize career services, staff should be able to dedicate enough time to serve the needs of students and alumni who desire assistance. There should be enough coaches / career counselors on staff to spend a portion of their time in the classroom educating students on the current and emerging best practices of conducting an effective career search.

Utilize Technology to improve service levels for students and alumni. Technology can increase efficiencies. For example, before someone meets with a staff counselor, what if he or she completed an online assessment like GEPA, which will diagnose the specific areas in which they need assistance. (See Career Search Education). GEPA saves at least an hour of time per student/alum for the staff member to figure out where the individual needs help. GEPA also provides the student/alum with one of the nation’s leading self-directed career search guides. That means each student and alum wishing to utilize career services get higher level services because GEPA provides the analysis and tools on a self-directed basis. Additional technology strategies could include E-learning modules focused on various aspects of career search, placing courses on the school’s LMS platform, and providing virtual career service seminars to students and alumni.

Boyer Management Group works with employers and job seekers alike to help both become more successful. For employers, we offer world-class talent acquisition and onboarding tools and programs. For job seekers, we offer the world’s first assessment to measure an individual’s knowledge and awareness of current and emerging career search best practices, along with the educational programs to support higher ed curriculum, career coaches and individual job seekers. To find out more, please visit us at info@boyermanagement.com, or
call us at 215-942-0982.

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