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Today's generation of students are uniquely challenged. With the reality check that COVID gave many, the shift has focused in some ways toward practicality. This means that colleges that position themselves as career-focused will be particularly attractive to prospective students.
Schools like Northeastern have long stood out because of their co-op program that emphasizes real world experience. This structure allows students to get a traditional college experience while working in a professional context, helping them develop the skills that they will need for a professional life, alongside critical thinking skills. How many other schools have followed or will follow the trend?
Until recently, most liberal arts schools would avoid the career discussion and sometimes argue that it was not their charge. However, that seems to be changing a bit even if there is still a gap. Why is this? Companies are noticing that college graduates lack essential professional skills and are not truly ready for their workforce. They have less experiences, largely due to COVID putting a stop to internships, volunteer experiences and activities. Their communication skills might also be lacking because of the gaps in in-person meetings and practice. There are a lot of things that have been uncontrollable in the last 2 years, and resumes are reflect that. Student experiences are just not as robust as they could or should be. In addition, marketplaces are evolving at a staggering rate and job candidates need to be able to help out with the changing landscape of most industries.
At the same time, students don’t believe they are getting the appropriate career guidance necessary to secure a job. Meeting with a career counselor for a 30 minute meeting is just the tip of the iceberg, and there is often a lack of follow up with these kinds of generalized career center services.
However, the important thing to keep in mind is not securing a job but having the experiential skills necessary to master whatever role may be available, or to even invent a new role. It is important for students to not only be academically well-rounded, but to know how to handle an online interview, write that effective email, or be comfortable presenting to a large crowd. Even more importantly, skills like scheduling, organization and time management are all skills that can be learned in college that are not necessarily part of a career focus but can be applied to the professional world.
Not all colleges may be ready to unveil career-focused curricula just yet, but students can already start by being their own advocates, networking and finding leadership roles in internship or volunteer opportunities that can help prepare them for the real world.
For help finding your path to the right college and future, give us a call for a free consultation.
Neal Schwartz, Owner
College Planning of Westchester
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