Tag Archives: College Students

But I Have A College Degree….

At the closing of my office hours, a college student asked, “How can I become more professionally competitive before graduation?”.   When I inquired about her unique skills and experiences, she simply responded, “Well, I’ll soon have a college degree. Isn’t that enough?”.

Unfortunately, her response is quite common among college students.  Why do they think that a college degree equates to being valuable in the job market or even entitles them to a job after graduation?  IT DOESN’T!  Passing a class does not mean you have the qualifications to lead and administer many jobs. If fact, I would not hire many of my graduating college students.

A University colleague had mentioned that a basic college degree is just that, basic. He noted that many employers complain about how their new college graduate employees lack basic skills and struggle keeping up in today’s evolving business climate.  An increasingly popular expectation is that job applicants should have at least a college degree which makes other applicants with a unique skill, an advanced or professional degree, or some leadership or professional experience more valuable.  Having a mere college degree doesn’t mean you’ll be competitive in today’s job market and certainly doesn’t guarantee anyone a job after graduation.

I recommend that students develop and demonstrate unique skills before or during college that make them more competitive in our international job market.  So what does it take to stand out from the thousands of job seeking applicants?  I note a few key skills that can significantly make your resume shine in our globalized economy.

The first skill is to learn a second language.  (Many people outside the U.S. are laughing right now since it’s common for them to be fluent in two, three, or four languages). But for U.S. college students, learn a new language.  Bridging multiple languages is a true asset in almost all job markets and as globalization increases mobility, you can work in any location that you want, presupposing you have the ability to effectively communicate with the people in that area.  If you want to be highly competitive and a desired applicant, know at least a second language.

The second skill, is customer service communication skills. Regardless of your occupation, you most likely work with people in some degree.  Think of everyone you work with as a customer and provide your value to satisfy your responsibility to them.  As our planet blends into one big melting pot of nationalities, ethnicities, languages, religions, and life styles, you’re ability to work with diverse groups will make you a true competitor in the job market.  Operate from a server’s frame and practice interpersonal skills to be an effective communicator.

The last skill I recommend you consider having is social network skills.  This skill can be scary and intimidating for many but it’s an increasingly important skill for job seekers.  Even basic social networking skills can increase your worth as an employee if you market yourself professionally.  In the next few years, our world will experience significant dependency on technological applications.  So if you haven’t already, get in on the action by learning how to professionally use Facebook, Twitter, HootSuite, blogs, etc. and market your skills to future employers.

If I could go back in time to relive my college experience I would acquire all of these skills by committing to one academic and professional activity: Study Abroad.  Living in a non-English speaking country would help me learn a new language, effectively work with diverse groups, build leadership skills, and because I’d want to document my experience while sinuously communicating with family and friends back home, I’d also learn social media and technology communication skills.

When I read a college graduate’s application who has international experience on their resume, I see a competitive applicant.   For other helpful tips to increase your competitive edge, check out Social BusinessStudy Abroad or Skype Tips.

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Filed under Higher Education, International Education

We’re here to Help Students Succeed

The first week of our fall semester is over and students are now feeling the hefty weight of their course workloads.  What happens now?  How can students work through the new overwhelming stresses?

It all starts with knowledge: let students know about the wide array of campus resources available to help cope, guide, and manage their academic challenges. The following resources are just a few of the most common campus services for students:

Writing centers– An excellent campus resource that usually offers free writing tutors.  These specialists help students outline writing assignments, edit papers, structure references, and correctly report in-text citation to avoid unintentional plagiarism.

Libraries– Besides the obvious free book rental, libraries are now a modern knowledge utopia.  Most provide free computer labs, free technology rentals (cameras, microphones, projectors, USB’s, tripods, movies, etc), free study rooms, discounted printing options, and research/presentation support.  Many campus libraries also offer free specialized student workshops about a wide array of topics including, “how to navigate WebCampus”, “how to Skype”, “how to create a PowerPoint”, or “How to use Endnote”.

Student Counseling– Most college students pay a psychiatric counseling fee as part of their student tuition but don’t realize it.  Campus counselors are professionals that help reduce anxiety and stress through specialized and confidential discussion. They also teach coping and time management skills. If it’s a service already paid for, why not use it?

Career Centers– While many students complete their coursework, they are also searching for work after graduation.  Building a professional resume, reference page, and cover letters takes time; not to mention the skill to present material in a competitive and professional manner. Student career centers are convenient and free campus resources that help maximize employment efforts in less time and are proofread by trained specialists.

Child Day Care– Many higher institutions provide free child day care for the mommy or daddy college student.  Space is usually limited, so get on a waiting list now. This student support resource can greatly help encourage a consistent attendance rate by not having to worry about a babysitter.

Health Centers– Another excellent student resource that help address and resolve stress and other wellness issues that distract students from completing homework on time. This is another service whose cost is most likely incorporated into student tuition; so why not use it?

Campus Gyms– There are numerous physical, emotional, mental, social, and other wellness benefits of utilizing campus gyms.  Students will experience a boost in self-esteem and health by keeping endorphins high and stress low. Membership fees are usually lower than regular private gyms if not free for students. Suggest that students try working out and having fun in campus recreation activities.

Professors & Administrators– We are here for students.  If they are struggling, have them stop by a professor’s office hours, pop into a Student Services office, or contact the Dean of their major.  We are here to promote their success.  If we can’t directly help the student, we will know the person who can and will make sure the two meet.

 

Students: RELAX and know you’re in good hands. College is fun and you’re going to do GREAT!

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Filed under Higher Education, Leadership

Course Curriculum + Social Media = Social Curriculum

Some of the most interesting and beneficial college courses that I have instructed or have taken, included some form of interactive discussion using social media.  If fact, many colleges and universities host a campus web service providing classroom discussion forums and student chat rooms.  I believe this is an effective instructional tool but it is also limited. If classroom discussion was available on social media platforms, curriculum topics could include global perspectives and experiences.  Yes, some course material is more sensitive and should be held within the course web service, but other topics could simply contribute greater social benefit and a more robust learning experience.

For example, I often invite guest speakers to visit my course and interact with my students.  Not only do my students gain from the guest speaker’s contributions, but through their interaction and discussion, the guest speaker benefits as well. Many times I have been told that the college student perspective has led to a change or update in the guest speaker’s profession.  For instance, during one of my law and ethics courses, our guest speaker who is a State Senator said that their engagement with my students was a good opportunity to interact with their local constituents and had gained from my student’s opinions, experiences, and perspectives about legislative issues.  In fact, the Senator was also inspired to try a new direction with a campaign strategy.

This got me thinking, if interaction between my guest speakers and my students was so beneficial for all involved, how could I promote these benefits on a larger scale?  How could I encourage a more effective partnership between my students and other resources outside of academia? What I have begun to practice and what I recommend other faculty to investigate is the use of Social Curriculum.  Social Curriculum is a web-based interactive learning environment used for course assignments. Twitter and blogging are two specific Social Curriculum tools that stimulate interactive discussion, build professional networks, and prepare our students as responsible digital citizens. One instructional tool that faculty can use includes a Twitter hashtab for a Tweetchat.  This application is free and provides a forum for real-time conversation that can connect guest speaker(s) to students.  It provides a forum for interactive, current, and ongoing discussions.

Another example of Social Curriculum includes the use of Blogging.  This social forum provides students an outlet to creatively express their responses to course topics either on their own blog website or on a course blog website.  This helps to engage student interest while making connections between course content and practical application. It also allows students to gain from other professionals and scholars in their discipline. In the very least, regardless of the course subject, faculty will be encouraging responsible social business skills.  As we develop Social Curriculum, faculty are preparing students to be responsible digital citizens in a social media culture.

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Filed under Higher Education, Social Business