College students are a community of about 20 million as of Fall 2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, but how many of those students are employed following graduation and burdened with debt?
Unemployment among recent college graduates (those aged 25 and over) was at 2.3 percent as of June 2019 as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is significantly better than the national average of 3.7 percent. This is of importance when considering the contemporary college student and asking what their purpose is for pursing a higher education and taking on the accompanying debt. The most common answer is to better equip themselves in the search for a career.
As a student at the local state university here in Boca Raton, FL, I had all kinds of services and opportunities to get ahead before graduating. From internships to resume writing classes, public institutions like mine are focusing more than ever on their students’ careers after they graduate and enter the workforce. Career centers are the leading resource students must take advantage of with the education they are now able to proclaim on their updated resumes.
One of the most effective ways for students to find prospective employers’ post-graduation is to take advantage of their institution’s career services center. According to Inside Higher Ed, an annual Gallup-Purde University study of college graduates showed that 61 percent of students who graduated between 2010 and 2016 had visited their institution’s career center at least once during their time in school. The study shows that those who visited the career center were more likely (67 to 59 percent) than those who had not to be employed full time post-graduation.
Universities across the country are taking initiative with trained career counselors and resources that are designed to find optimal career opportunities for students. The push to get more students into career centers is an important mission for universities, especially in the early years of a student’s college experience. College Recruiter quoted Bloomberg stating, 75 percent of students are graduating with experience from at least one internship, meaning to set yourself apart as a recent graduate, a bachelor’s degree and one internship may not be enough in such a competitive job market.
Research shows that the importance of preparing students early on for their careers post-graduation cannot be understated. Colleges and universities are becoming better equipped to provide the necessary guidance and resources, but it is up to students to also seek the help being provided.
What can institutions do? I implore higher education institutions to recognize how pivotal the early college career can be in the greater outcome of a student’s life. For this reason, institutions need to dedicate more resources to being personally involved in their students’ success and provide more personalized communications to students. Encouraging students to gain career-focused experience early on can generate exponentially more opportunity post-graduation.
As the trend of post-secondary institutions making an effort to affect the outcomes of their students’ careers continues, we may see in the near future a generation of well prepared, and most importantly employed, recent graduates.