Career Planning 101
During their first year or so of college, students will be involved (formally or informally) in assessing their skills, interests, and abilities. They will do this through finding success (or failure) in courses they take, involvement in campus activities, discussions with their friends and faculty, and by being exposed to and trying out different ideas and experiences.
Most students enter college with a very limited knowledge of the vast array of courses and majors available to them. When they begin to delve into studies that are new to them, even those who entered with a plan may be drawn to different options. This is an exciting time for students.
What you can do to help
Support your child’s exploration of new areas of study and interests. This, after all, is what education is all about.
Affirm what you know to be areas of skill and ability he or she has consistently demonstrated. Sometimes students overlook these and need to be reminded.
Talk with your son or daughter about the courses and activities he or she is enjoying. Students discover new things about themselves throughout the college experience. Your willingness to listen and be a sounding board will keep you in the loop.
Don’t panic if your child is excited about majoring in something like English, history, or art. These can be excellent choices, particularly if they are a good match for a student’s interests and skills.
Support your son or daughter’s responsible involvement in campus activities but urge this to be balanced with maintaining achievement in the classroom.
Urge your child to seek assistance in the campus career center. Most institutions have assessment instruments and counselors to help students to define their skills, interests, and abilities.
The college years are a time of exploration, experimentation, and learning on many levels for students and their parents! Some student challenges may seem more positive than others, but all contribute to the educational outcomes of the college or university experience.
Throughout these years, students are developing a “record of achievement” that will be evaluated by employers and graduate schools as they move beyond college. There are several pieces of this record:
Academic achievement. The grade point average (GPA) is one factor considered by competitive employers and graduate schools. It is one of the few tangible indications of a student’s ability to learn and perform effectively, at least in the academic environment. Therefore, students need to do as well as possible in the classroom, especially in courses in their majors.
Responsible work experience. In today’s competitive employment market, many employers seek students who have related internship, summer, cooperative education, or part-time job or volunteer experiences. In fact, employers often look to their own such programs as primary sources for their new hires. These experiences are particularly critical for liberal arts students whose majors may not appear to be directly related to their areas of career interest.
Responsible involvement outside the classroom. Extracurricular activities provide the opportunity for students to gain many valuable and career-related skills, such as the ability to work effectively with others in a team environment; leadership; planning and organizational skills; and priority-setting and time management. These are part of the package of skills employers seek in their new hires.
Best of luck to you in navigating the challenging waters of parenting a college or university student.
By Sally Kearsley. Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
We recommend that you have your student contact us directly. If you need to speak with us, please be advised that we require a FERPA release before we can discuss your student with you. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended (FERPA, aka The Buckley Amendment) is a federal law that governs the privacy, access and disclosure of student educational records. Students may authorize the release of educational records by submitting a written and dated request to the Office of the Registrar, or by printing and submitting a FERPA form.