College ROI What You Need To Know

This is a good article by Forbes (Linked Here) on the necessity of career services in determining college outcomes. Parents are beginning to question the return on investment with that college degree. With so many students exiting college with degrees that are not marketable, the article assumes that colleges should make their career services department stand out more. Unfortunately, I think they are missing many of the most important aspects of career counseling.

Colleges should do a better job of explaining what the job possibilities are for their chosen major AND what THAT college sees as the average entry-level income for those majors. (Can you get a job with a degree in underwater basket weaving? How much does it pay? If it’s not a living wage, why are they offering that degree program?) That was an important part of questioning for us. My son's program said the entry level income for those attending his school in his major is $65,000. Not only is this good to know (does my degree have value) but for the student it helps them to know what their worth should be in the marketplace, coming out of that school with that degree when they are negotiating their first job offer.

One of the points made in the article is to potentially incentivize students to take a career services course by making it required and ‘for credit.’ I disagree with giving college credit since that would be no different than having an ACT/SAT test prep course in high school. Make it required? Sure. Give credit? Mmm not so much. When I was in college there was a required “Time Management” course every freshman had to take. No credit was given but if you didn’t attend the class your midterm grades would not be released.

Most employees of the career services department haven’t been hired outside the college/university in 10 years, or ever. Although they may offer great services such as mock interviews and career days, they are behind the 8-ball when it comes to helping with student resumes.

At my son’s university, they were required to submit their resume for approval before it could be submitted to the job board or to employers in the system. Sounds great! Except that their idea of what employers want in both content and structure was outdated. For example, as a college freshman interested in a summer internship my son submitted in excess of 300 applications using an approved resume. Yet as a national merit scholar student with a 4.0 he didn’t hear a peep! Something was definitely off! In my research, I found (1) that the vast majority of resumes do not get into human hands until after it is scanned by computer for certain keywords, and (2) the college career center dictates for the resume were completely off base! After making those changes my son had no problem getting an internship. (Oh! And in his senior year, his resume was rejected once again by a career services ‘intern’ and a very respectful reply email was sent letting them know that THIS resume has been working for 4 years. Don’t mess with it!)

Another employment thing parents and students can research as part of making their college list is, who recruits from that school? Go to the career day info and look at who is recruiting and for what majors! That will tell you a lot about the value of an education at that school.

Remember, your teen's college list is very important in not only his future job prospects but even more important in graduating without student debt. Help your teen make wise financial choices. Take the Cracking the Code to Free College course to discover all that we did to get that 4-year degree for free for both my kids.


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