How many people have a job @graduation?

On college campuses across the country it’s ‘conversion’ time; next level marketing to the chosen to turn them into the enrolled. How do you differentiate between alternatives? If you take the commodity approach, it’s all about guaranteed employment. Here’s the thing – there are no guarantees.

It’s reasonable to consider post-grad employment when you’re investing a significant amount of money in a college degree. But that’s what it is, an investment, not a purchase. For the student, ‘attending’ college is not a passive act, it’s a full-time commitment. The ROI is a direct result of the effort, not dollars expended.

Former Cornell University president and current AAU president, Hunter Rawlings weighed in on the value of college debate last spring.

“A college education, then, if it is a commodity, is no car. The courses the student decides to take (and not take), the amount of work the student does, the intellectual curiosity the student exhibits, her participation in class, his focus and determination — all contribute far more to her educational “outcome” than the college’s overall curriculum, much less its amenities and social life. Yet most public discussion of higher ed today pretends that students simply receive their education from colleges the way a person walks out of Best Buy with a television.”  

When you ask the question ‘How many students are employed at graduation?’ you’re asking about the resale value of the car.

No one in today’s job market is guaranteed work. Any individual who believes their institutional pedigree will stand alone to open career doors is delusional.

The level of student engagement in internships, research, community service and extra-curricular activities, combined with faculty, staff and alumni connections, are far better predictors of post-grad success than destination survey statistics.

The question to ask is ‘What are the resources available to assist students seeking work?’ The ‘support’ assets are the constant in a volatile job market. Access to this ‘capital’ is the true measure of a university’s commitment to post-grad employment.

 

 

When choosing a college, ask ‘Who will I become?’

The questions we ask when selecting an undergraduate or graduate program focus on the financial and vocational. What will it cost? Will I get a job when I graduate? What we miss is the critical question. Who will I become?

It’s not a question just for philosophy majors.

Each university community is a micro culture defined by traditions, behaviors and beliefs. Even the most jaded will be transformed by the experience. That’s why imagining your selfie in four years is as important as financial and career planning.

The Atlantic’s senior editor, Derek Thompson acknowledged this developmental progression when he examined the impact of college choice on future success.

“While hundreds of thousands of 17- and 18-year-olds sit around worrying that a decision by a room of strangers is about to change their lives forever, the truer thing is that their lives have already been shaped decisively by the sum of their own past decisions—the habits developed, the friends made, and the challenges overcome. Where you go to college does matter, because it’s often an accurate measure of the person you’re becoming.”

If you accept that college is a point on the developmental continuum, your challenge is to find a place where your past intersects with your optimal opportunity for continued growth.

If place defines you, it’s a campus where you’ll discover the gaps in your experience and explore every possible resource to fill in the blanks. Networking will not be an abstract process for job search, but a four year active engagement with faculty, administrators and colleagues.

Your future is not determined by the decision of an admissions committee, but by the sum of your individual decisions over time, and who you will become.