What are college graduate job skills?

One tends to read quite a bit, these days, about college graduate job skills (or the lack thereof).

Let me be very clear:  I do not believe you should enroll in college just to get a job.  

Neither should your major be a subject in which you have little or no interest only because the job prospects are good. College is much more.  It is a time to explore your interests and discover new talents. It’s a time to make life-long friendships.

The unemployment rate for college graduates was 3.8% last year. (High school graduates had an unemployment re of 7.4 %.)  But in a collaborative report between The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace, published in March of 2013, about 50% of 700 employers who participated in the study said they had trouble finding qualified college graduates to fill positions in their company. 

According to the employers in the study, college graduates need to have the following skills:

  • Good written and oral communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Ability to manage multiple priorities
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Ability to collaborate
  • Flexibility
  • Knowing how retrieve and use information in a workplace situation.

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

  • Be your own advocate.
  • Go through the list of employable skills as you progress from your first to last year.
  • Be certain you are the graduate that future employers need and want.

The College Corporate Connection; or lack thereof

The college-corporate connection isn’t always a tight one, especially when it comes to views of employment following graduation.

A recent blog published by Intead outlined the differences between what college presidents think is important in getting a job after graduation and what employers believe is important.

Among the findings:

  • College presidents believe that a school’s reputation, a graduate’s internships, major, GPA, and employment during college were the most important factors.
  • Employers believe that internships, employment during college, college major, volunteer experiences and extracurricular activities were important when evaluating a potential employee.  College GPA and reputation came in last. 
  • Headlines stress how many college graduates are looking for jobs while living in their parents’ basements.  But that is only part of the story.  Employers have jobs that they cannot fill because college graduates do not have the necessary skills.
  • Increasingly corporations are partnering with colleges and universities to meet their future workforce needs to comprar cialis sin receta.  For example, IBM has created the Academic Initiative, and is working with colleges and universities to develop curricula that will help college graduates develop data skills needed to meet “Big Blue’s” future workforce needs.  Georgetown University, Northwestern University, the National University of Singapore and the University of Missouri are all participating schools.

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

  • Meeting with staff in your school’s career counseling office to learn of any corporate partnerships.
  • Also get a list of all internships and off-site work opportunities.  
  • Be your own advocate and plot your own employment experience while in college.
  • You now know this is important to future employees.

The SAT is revised. Is it better? No.

Even with revisions, the SAT remains a seriously flawed – and therefore poor – indicator of college aptitude and qualification.

The first Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT,  was administered in June, 1926.  Students had 97 minutes to answer 315 questions.  For almost 90 years, the results of what most educational experts believe is a flawed test, have dominated admission applications and decisions.

Recently the College Board announced that it is altering the exam to include the following changes:

  • The mandatory essay has been eliminated.
  • A perfect score is 1600.
  • Changes in some sections of the advanced mathematics part of the exam have been eliminated. 
  • Obscure vocabulary words have been replaced.

Regardless of the suggested changes, the SAT remains a controversial exam. The poorest test takers score 400 points lower than richer students. The rich can pay for expensive test prep courses; the poor cannot.  Critics claim that this makes it relatively easy to game the system.

For too many years the most elite colleges and universities have used the exam to eliminate applicants with low SAT scores.  

  • Is there a connection between SAT scores and college rankings?
  • Has the exam become another “gatekeeper?”
  • How many college presidents and boards of trustees pressure enrollment management and admission deans to improve the average SAT scores of the next incoming class?
  • How many college presidents and boards of trustees examine, after one year, the grade point averages of the freshmen who entered with high SAT scores and those who did not?  
  • How many presidents and board of trustees examine the SAT scores of graduating seniors?

The New College GuideCritics of the exam, me included, believe that a better way to measure the academic competency of applicants is to examine their four year high school grades and progression. No one’s academic career should be judged by the results of one exam on one specific day.

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

  • Investigate the hundreds of colleges and universities who are SAT-optional.

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.

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.