Advice from College Grads

Faced with the challenge of finding employment during a recession, 2/3 of recent college grads say they would make different choices if they had a do-over.  These students found out it isn’t just college admissions students need to pay attention to but rather making the most of the opportunities they are in college. A survey by Rutgers University of 444 recent grads offers wisdom that current high school and college students should consider carefully.

Let’s take a look at one question from this survey and see what our homeschoolers can do to put this advice to work. “Thinking back to college is there anything you would have done differently to be successful today?”

Grad Lesson One: Consider Major Choice Carefully
Many grads wish they would have more carefully considered their choice of major.  In hindsight about 40% wish they’d chosen a “professional” major such as education, nursing, or social work.  Many other grads (29%) wish they’d chosen a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) major instead.

Many grads reported they really aren’t sure why they chose their major and that they did not carefully evaluate job prospects when they made their decision.

What You Can Do: Require your high school student to begin actively researching careers.  When you make college visits consider including a trip to the Career Planning Center on campus. This will make sure your student understands the services offered. Encourage your college student to take advantage of the advising services offered on campus to carefully plan their major.  Counsel your student to visit the career services center on campus FIRST YEAR  – do not wait until senior year.

Grad Lesson Two: The Value of Internships and Part Time Employment
The study reveals students who have internships in college do fare better in the job market. Internships help students develop: maturity, experience in their field of interest, and contacts that will help them in their job search.   It is not uncommon for students to turn a college internship into a full time job after graduation. Even for students who aren’t this lucky work experience will help strengthen their resume and they may obtain important work references.

I recently heard from a student who told me the main thing she learned on her internship was that adding more technology courses in college would give her more competitive employment prospects in her field of interest.  Based on what she learned on the job she knew to make important changes in her college schedule. This points to the importance of not putting off internships for senior year.

What You Can Do: It is not too early for high school students to begin to explore any fields of career interest. Encourage your students to consider volunteering or interning during high school. College students should seriously consider having multiple internships during college. It is best to start as early in college as possible so there is the option to alter their course of study if needed.

Grad Lesson Three: Go to College
It is revealing that even in a time of recession, only 3% of grads regret the choice to go to college. Even with a very tight job market, young people recognize the crucial role of a college degree in helping them access employment opportunities. They may be making less money than they’d hoped to, but they don’t regret the investment in a college education because long term they feel it will pay off.

What You Can Do: If your homeschooler wants to attend college, help them develop a strong academic profile and research affordable college options.

Read More
Career Planning Tips for College Students





1 comment

  • It is interesting that so many doubt their chosen major. Also, as a humanities grad, I am always a little sad to see so much desire for highly specialized “professional” majors. Whatever major they choose, though, students should be aware that employers desire skill in critical thinking and writing/communication.

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