For those who study career satisfaction and its relationship to higher education, big data projects can often return damning indictments of our higher education system.
Back in February, Jeremy Podany, CEO of The Career Leadership Collective, gave a presentation for our Pathways to Student Career Success conference. He brought with him some sobering statistics.
- 43% of new college graduates are under-employed.
- Only 51% of 10-year alumni feel their tuition was worth what they paid for it.
- Only 62% report receiving any form of career advice from their university at all.
Combine these statistics with the fact that 86% of students report that the reason they are attending college is to get a better job after graduation, and it isn’t hard to see why interest in advanced degrees has declined every year since 2009.
So how can your university set itself apart from these dire reports? How can your school begin to reverse the trend of students feeling their tuition wasn’t worth what they paid for it? How can you make a better case for your school in this era of enormous change?
Jeremy and his team look at career readiness and alumni success in a new way that unlocks new and interesting insights. So just how did they do it?
As Jeremy outlined for us back in February, you can start with 3 foundational steps.
- Pursue Career Data Sophistication
By broadening the scope of alumni data you collect, your institution can begin to tell a better story about your role in student success after graduation. This can aid you not only in enrollment and retention practices, but the stories you deliver to donors, government agencies and accreditation boards.
You can start by convening a working group to decide on the data you need to collect. Create surveys that will successfully get you this data and begin your study.
To get started, find out how graduates feel about their skill acquisition and economic success since leaving your university. Also, focus on how students recall the university helping them achieve these goals.
These lasting impressions you were able to leave on students as they have progressed through their careers can inform a variety of campus initiatives going forward.
- Focus On High-Impact Practices
When using the Career Mobility Index to examine data, four events in a student’s college career stood out above the rest as being particularly impactful on the student and indicative of future success.
- Engaging in career-related internships or related experiences
- Receiving helpful career advice
- Designing a career plan
- Interacting with potential employers
This focus on high-impact practices is especially important for universities struggling with additional resources. Collecting data on alumni is a good place to start to identify high-impact practices. But schools that have partnered with Suitable have taken this process one step further. By unifying all campus activities under one umbrella, schools can collect student success data, build scaffolding and leadership achievements into these high-impact practices and challenge students to get the very most out of each practice as they make their way towards graduation.
This form of real-time data collection can also help cash-strapped universities examine programming redundancies and programs that students are simply no longer interested in so they can stop wasting money on them and focus on programming that will meet the demands of their current student population.
- Go Beyond The Career Center To Create A Career Mobility Campus
Perhaps the most important thing you and your faculty can do is participate in a philosophy change across campus. Instead of keeping career services confined within the career center, where students have to seek out career reflection, you embed it into everything you do as a university.
How do you do this? No, it doesn’t require every professor and administrator to become a career counselor overnight. But it does require professors and administrators to build career reflection into the syllabus, into outside-the-classroom activities, into graduation requirements. And it requires professors and administrators outside the career services office to be open to building connections with students who come to them with career-related questions.
Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:
- Create ready-made online career reflection activities that can be leveraged across campus.
- Ask students for their advice on how to improve career readiness.
- Start with faculty members and stakeholders that want to be involved.
This is where Suitable can be helpful. If you have all your school’s activities, resources and goals under one umbrella, right in each student’s pocket, you give faculty an easy way to recommend next steps, track student progress and follow up, becoming that trusted advisor that students are seeking as they progress towards their career.
So there you have it. As you prepare to welcome students back to campus this fall, how will your school begin to shift more towards career readiness and mobility? If you have seen success with similar programs, contact us today. We’d love to hear from you.