Schools that commit to improving graduate outcomes gain a boost in credibility and a possible leg up in enrollment and retention. Considering that 84% of students in a 2019 UCLA study cited being able to get a better job as a “very important” motivator behind their decision to go to college, colleges have a powerful incentive to give students the tools they need for career success. But in an ever-evolving job market—especially today—improving students’ employment outcomes is easier said than done. In this post, see what some of Vemo Education’s partner schools are doing to prepare their students for post-graduation success.
Be Transparent about Major Choices
Although it’s somewhat taboo to talk about, it’s no secret: Students who study certain majors have an easier time breaking into the job market than others. It’s up to students to assess their own financial situation, interests, and career path when choosing a major, but colleges can provide data about past graduates’ experiences to help undergraduates make an informed decision.
Purdue University provides students with outcomes data and salary reports separated by major. The reports allow students to see the number of Purdue survey respondents employed or enrolled in graduate school across majors, as well as starting salary information. This makes it easy for students to understand how their choice of major could affect their career prospects.
Does that mean no student should study the humanities? Of course not. But students who study anthropology should know the career options they’ll have—whether it’s field research, forensics, museum curation, or something else—and whether they’ll need to plan for an advanced degree after graduation. With knowledge about job outcomes, students are better equipped to pick a field of study that fits with their short-term needs and goals for the future.
Help Students Utilize the Career Center
Career centers offer valuable tools to prepare students to enter the workforce, but they’re frequently underutilized. According to a 2016 study by Gallup and Purdue University, 39% of students who attended college between 2010 and 2016 never visited their school’s career center, indicating issues with accessibility or a perceived lack of value. But career centers have proven themselves to be a useful tool for helping students secure a good job after graduation. 67% of students who visited the career center at least once were employed full time, compared to 59% of students who never visited.
Clarkson University’s career center lists services that students can utilize, from mock interviews to salary negotiation advice. They also work with companies to help connect students to internships and job openings, and to build relationships between Clarkson and potential employers.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for many students to find employment, it has also forced career centers to adapt and improve their online services. Even once in-person advising becomes possible again, career centers can make it easier for students to access services through continued remote advising, resources permitting. They may also continue to have a strong online presence that helps students fit career services into their busy schedules.
Support Post-traditional Students
As of 2018, 40% of undergraduates were over the age of 25. But even well-meaning colleges sometimes overlook these students, tailoring their career services to support the needs of traditional college-age students. Adult students are at a different point in their careers—they generally have a better idea of what they want to study but also may need advice about getting back into the workforce or balancing work with raising children.
Though it’s not a traditional college, the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) works with job-seekers to help connect them to colleges, skills training programs, and employment opportunities. SDWP targets its services to benefit specific groups often excluded from the job market. It also helps match employers with job-seekers in San Diego County.
Through a partnership with UC San Diego and Vemo Education, SDWP helps adult learners and other post-traditional students access career training in specialized tech fields such as business intelligence, Java programming, digital marketing, and front-end development. Skills-based training at UC San Diego gives many adults the opportunity to relaunch their careers or break into a higher-earning line of work. Traditional colleges can learn from this playbook, either by developing strategic partnerships locally or by offering more courses tailored to post-traditional students.
When students succeed after graduation, everybody wins. Alumni land quality jobs. Employers get well-trained employees. Schools prove the value of a college education.
Colleges can help students by giving them information about graduates’ employment prospects in different fields. They can also encourage students to take advantage of existing career center resources and continue to expand career counseling, making sure it benefits all students, regardless of their age or employment experience. Colleges have an important role to play in enabling student success, and they can demonstrate their commitment by providing the support students need to make the most of their degrees.