College Students: Degrees, Employment, & Preparation

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Getting a college degree is no longer enough to land a job after graduation.  Today’s students must take into account not only what they would like to to with their academic training, but what employment opportunities will be available by the time they graduate and how to promote their skills to attract future employment.

According to Celine James in a recent article, Who Should Decide Your College Major, there is strong need for academic programs to better reflect job market trends and for students to be aware of which academic programs will satisfy economic demands by the time of their graduation.  The article states, “As a student, your potential earned income and long-term job prospects should weigh heavily in the decisions you make about majors, degrees and programs… and to weigh the research with your own personal interests and needs”.  In addition, the article introduces some federal funding efforts and legislation intending to incentivize specific degrees in order to help satisfy future employment needs.

Deciding on a college degree or major can be a process to which requires significant consideration.  Pennsylvania State University has shared that 80% of college students are undecided about their college major during their first semester and that 50% of college students switch majors at least once during their academic career.  Penn State recommends that students begin to investigate their academic/professional interests early and provides helpful resources to do so.  One example includes “Major Decisions” written by Michael Leonard.  Remember, while deciding on a degree or major, be sure to balance your academic interest with its practical application in the job market 4-6 years for now.  The next step is to begin marketing yourself for that employment during your college experience.

Two previously discussed examples of how students and faculty can increase their attractiveness for employment include College = Employment and Social Business in Higher Education.   Students must now more than ever, build a professional profile marketing them as a viable job candidate.   Teresa Crane discusses a few strategies that students can practice during and after their academic career to increase professionalism and stand out from their competition.  In her recent article, Career Skills You Won’t Learn in School, she shares the following strategies to become more professionally attractive:

  • Identifying Potential Employers
  • Establish Your Online Presence
  • Develop A Job Search Strategy
  • Networking Skills
  • Job Searching Skills
  • Resumes
  • Cover Letters
  • Job Interviews
  • Job Offers
  • Persistence Skills
  • Future of Work

Finally, if you’re an international college student in the U.S, it can be more difficult getting a job after graduation.  These students often struggle with additional challenges including language, legislative, and cultural barriers.  In response, many of them are now outsourcing new resources that link academic preparation with professional development to enhance their likelihood of post graduation employment.  One educational service includes How Leaders Should Lead Institute (HLSL Institute) which specializes in cross-cultural adaptation in the U.S. International students receive help before, during, and after graduation through an individualized academic plan to manage academic requirements, professional goals, and the skills needed to achieve those goals.

CRUX: Getting a college degree is no longer enough to land a job after graduation.  Today’s students must plan ahead for long-term employment trends, create a personal brand to market their qualifications, as well as consider new professional development options.

I wish this fall semester’s students much success.

6 Comments

Filed under Higher Education, International Education

6 responses to “College Students: Degrees, Employment, & Preparation

  1. Mitchell Brandt

    I have always been interested in becoming a teacher. My family is full of great educators and I have the same genes. I enjoy getting to know students and relating to them. Growing up my best teachers were able to relate and got to know who I was. It makes all the difference. But when then I began college I wasn’t sure what todo. And college is much harder than I was expecting. I was unprepared. But I still knew I wanted to be around children. I think the hardest part about this world we live in is the expectations that are always rising. Not only do you need a degree but you need experience and the resume to back it. Not only that but people are retiring later so less jobs are open. It can be so stressful just to think about finding the right job. There’s one thing that I am sure of, I don’t need to be rich I just want to be happy wih my job as an educator.

    • Cory Anderson

      I agree with this completely. College is a whole other monster, and in our society it is no longer viable to simply have just a Bachelors degree. In our society, it is know almost necessary to have a Masters degree now. It can be hard to find the drive and passion to keep you going while you are obtaining this degree; however, it is a comfort to know that there are others who are also struggling with these same hurdles. It can be helpful to be engaged in blogs such as this; blogs like this are what keeps students motivated. We are living in a society that is constantly growing and changing on many different levels, and we as future educators need to be prepared for this drastic change.

  2. Dylan Griffin

    I always find it interesting to see all the extra details behind being successful in the job market. Most of the steps and skills discussed above are rarely taught to college students, or any students for that matter. How could a college degree get you a career if you don’t have the proper skills to find one? Even deciding what degree you want can be stressful while trying to plan around an evolving job market. To me, it seems only the ones with great predictions and preparation will be able to find a career after college. The rest of the graduates will take their chances in finding even a decent job to start paying off all those student loans they took out to get the degree that was supposed to help them find a career. It seems like it can turn into a vicious cycle that would leave someone with regret and struggle.

    • Morgan Barnreiter

      I agree completely. There is definitely a lot of pressure to be marketable. A degree with no other experience or qualifications has much less value than many people think. However I found the links and resources in this article very useful in getting an idea as to what is involved in making yourself as marketable as possible.

  3. Cory Anderson

    I was drawn to this specific blog post because I have often wondered how my choice of majors will effect my career later on. Often times, it is frowned upon to be an English major. However, just as you mentioned above in your blog post, it is all about marketing your job skills and giving yourself a set of skills that will still be marketable 4-6 years in the future. I often times think think that it is hard to find a balance between your passion and what is the logical choice for you in a career, and this blog post re-inspired me into my own blog once again! In addition to this, there is a foreign exchange student that I often tutor in the Writing Center who shares these same concerns. She is from Japan, and she is concerned that her lack of complete language acquisition will prevent her from a formidable force in the job market in the future. However, we have been working on her English and discussing ways that she can market the skill set that she already naturally has. The HLSL Institute is an incredible resource that I will be discussing with her during our next tutoring session. Excellent post!

  4. Morgan Barnreiter

    This post discusses an issue that is important for many college students as well as for job seekers in general. It reminded me of an infographic I saw recently that featured statistics on “Educating the Workforce of the Future”:
    http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/1105/educating-the-workforce/flat.html
    The fact that 60% of available jobs in the United States now require an associates degree and only a fraction are filled because a lack of appropriate training is a completely preventable problem. If counselors were more proactive about engaging with college students (particularly at the community college level) and college programs were more tailored to our current/future job market, I think we would see a significant improvement in regards to this problem.

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