Universities can do better: job after graduation

Harvard University

Dr. Drew Faust, president of Harvard University, recently acknowledged students and parents deserve some assurance a college degree can and will translate into a job after graduation.

Faust made her comments on a recent broadcast of The Charlie Rose Show while also endorsing the need for a liberal arts education.

From a practical and strategic enrollment management perspective, the time has long passed when staff from the career counseling office should be included when universities develop enrollment management plans.

Parents and students want to know what jobs your graduates get after they leave your school. That information should come at the beginning, not the end, of your marketing and recruitment planning for next year and can be used to improve your application and yield statistics.

Here are ten practical suggestions and questions:

  • When enrollment management plans are written for the 2014-15 admission year, be certain the career counseling staff is included in the strategic plans.
  • Is there a four, three, two or one-year career counseling plan that assists students by raising awareness of the constructive steps they can take to better position themselves at graduation to get a job.
  • Do career counselors speak to prospective students and parents?
  • Is career counseling information in a format that can be sent to guidance counselors, transfer counselors, parents and students? Is it on your website and printed publications? Do all of your admission and transfer counselors have this information?
  • Do you include career counseling and employment information as part of your on-campus information sessions?
  • Do you have the statistics of your school’s job placement from last year’s graduating class? Do you have this information by major?
  • Do you have typical starting salaries for graduates?
  • Do you have a list of job titles and companies of graduates?
  • Do you have quotes from U.S. and international alumni that can be used in marketing to future students?
  • Do alumni speak at accepted student receptions?

Can you compare your career counseling program and post-graduation statistics with your competitor schools?

This is the beginning of an entirely new way to reach future students and their parents with meaningful information.

More to come in next week’s blog on this subject.

College education: how much aid is available?

Most families in the United States and around the world know that financing a college education is expensive.  

But a college degree is an investment for both the student and family.  So how much financial aid is available?

According to a report by the College Board, in 2012-13 a total of $185.1 billion was awarded to undergraduate students.  Loans represented 37% of the total amount awarded and 24% was awarded in grant aid.  This represents an increase of 132% since 2002-03.

The following statistics are important as you search for the best school for you and your family.  Last year: 

  • $13.0 billion was awarded in federal grants other than Pell grants.
  • Pell Grant funding totaled $32.3 billion.
  • Federal loans totaled $67.8 billion.
  • Private and employer grants were $9.8 billion.
  • Institutions awarded $34.9 billion in grant aid last year.
  • State grant funding totaled $9.6 billion.

mjdennisbook-cover-1000-wideIn addition to federal loans and grants, the federal government funded $.9 billion in Work-Study funding.

The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job recommends:

  • Never eliminate a school because of the published costs.  Few families pay the full amount and as you can read in this blog, there is a great deal of money, from federal, state, institutional and private sources, that can assist you in funding your education.
  • International students should find out, before they enroll, all of the financial aid available at each of the schools on their lists.

Before enrolling in college, ask these questions.

We know enrolling in college is one of life’s biggest steps – and a very exciting one!

The world changes, a quantum shift – both for students and for parents. A lot of research and thought pays off prior to applying to your first choices.

Before filing an application to any college or university, I would schedule a meeting or speak with a financial aid counselor and get answers to the following questions:

  • Is the school blind to financial need when considering admission?
  • Is the school’s policy to meet full need?
  • What percentage of students receives merit aid and what percentage receive need-based aid?
  • Will my admission application be treated differently if we do not file for financial aid? Will I have an advantage?
  • If my high school grades are outstanding, am I certain to receive a merit scholarship?
  • If my family’s financial situation does not change, will I receive the same amount of financial aid each year?
  • How will an outside scholarship impact my financial aid award?
  • What can I do if I need more money to attend your school? Is there an appeal process?

The New College Guide by Marguerite-J-Dennis FeaturedThe New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job recommends:

  • Establish a relationship with a financial aid counselor before you enroll.
  • Be honest in all of your dealing with the financial aid office.
  • Get everything in writing and keep accurate records of all of your meetings with your financial aid counselor.

College Graduates Earn More, Get Better Jobs

mortar boardHow many articles have you read lately suggesting college graduates are no better off in the workforce than people without college degrees?

Articles questioning the “worth” of a college education seem to be plentiful in recent months.

Let’s take a look at some statistics and maybe this information will help some admission counselors respond when this question is asked: is a college degree worth the cost?

Positive Facts

According to an article written by Catherine Rampell in The New York Times last year:

  • The unemployment rate for college graduates last year was 3.9%, compared with a 7.5% unemployment rate for the work force as a whole. Among all segments of workers sorted by educational attainment, college graduates are the only group that has more people employed today than when the recession started.
  • The number of college-educated workers has increased by 9.1% since the beginning of the recession.
  • Employment for students who have some college credits, but not a degree, decreased since the beginning of the recession.
  • In 2012, the typical full-time worker with an undergraduate degree earned 79% more than a high school graduate. Thirty years earlier the percentage was 48%.
  • As of April 2011, about 32% of Americans had a college degree. Twenty years ago this statistic was 22%.
  • According to an analysis from the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institute in Washington, the benefits of a college education was equivalent to an investment that returns 15.2 % a year.
  • The media has focused on the minority of college graduates who are surfing the web looking for work, living in their parents’ basements and working in jobs that a short while ago, did not require a college degree. All that may be true for some graduates. It’s not true for all.

In next week’s blog you will read about the marriage of enrollment managers with career counselors to achieve enrollment success.

Capstone Vietnam Fall 2014 StudyUSA Higher Education Fairs

I am pleased to recommend Capstone Vietnam’s unique, customized StudyUSA Higher Education Fair series in fall 2014 that will cover five (5) cities in all three regions of the country, including Haiphong and Hanoi in the North, Danang in the center and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Vung Tau (high school mini-fairs only) in the South.  Follow this link for detailed information and online registration. Vietnam remains a hot market for U.S. colleges and universities.  It ranked 8th among all sending countries, 6th in undergraduate enrollment and 3rd in international enrollment at community colleges, according to the 2013 Open Doors international academic mobility report. Capstone Vietnam (PDF), a human resource development company with offices in Hanoi and HCMC, is led by Dr. Mark Ashwill, managing director. For more information, contact Mark at markashwill@capstonevietnam.com or send an email to fairs@capstonevietnam.com.  ​


This email is virus-free. In the meantime, you can find the answers to 100 questions about getting into college, getting out and landing a job in my book, The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out & Get a Job.

What is a College Financial Aid Package?

You know your child is headed for college and you also know your family is going to need financial aid to pay for your child’s education.

You are certainly not alone. In the last two posts, we covered facts you need to know about college financial aid and explained the all-important FAFSA.

college graduationOnce your family has filed a FAFSA and the EFC has been calculated, the staff of the financial aid office will determine what financial aid you are eligible to receive.

The official form letter you receive will list the type and amount of the aid you will receive.  That includes funding from:


  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Employment
  • Federal Aid
  • State Aid
  • Institutional Aid
  • Outside organization or private funding sources.

Examples of What Your Financial Aid Package Will Include:

Grant Programs

  • The largest federal grant program is the Pell Grant Program. Awards range from $600 to $5,500.
  • Most colleges and universities, especially private schools, have their own grant programs and awards are usually based on outstanding high school grades.  Individual states also sponsor grant programs.  Check your state’s website for further information.

Loan Programs

  • One popular federal loan program is the Perkins Loan Program. The current interest rate is 5% and the maximum amount is $5,500 per year.
  • Stafford loans are federally subsidized loans and have an interest rate of 3.4%.
  • Freshmen can receive $3,500, sophomores $4,500 and juniors and seniors $5,500 to meet their educational expenses.
  • Parent Loans to Undergraduate Students (PLUS) allow parents to borrow up to the total cost of education minus any financial aid awarded.  The interest rate is 7.9%.

Work Programs

  • The federal Work-Study program allows students to work part-time usually on-campus.
  • Many colleges and universities sponsor their own employment programs.

The New College Guide by Marguerite-J-Dennis FeaturedThe New College Guide: How to Get It, Get Out, and Get a Job recommends:

  • Compare all of your estimated financial aid awards before you apply.
  • Be honest and accurate in completing all of your financial aid forms.
  • Calculate your estimated loan bill with an estimate of what your first year salary is likely to be.  I recommend allocating 15% of your first year’s salary to meeting your loan bill.
  • Make employment an essential part of your financial aid plan.
  • Financial aid counselors can exercise professional judgment to increase your award if you can make a good case.