Get a Great Job After College: Advice for Parents

Parents are worried their student will be unable to find a good job after college.  They should be!  According to the Department of Labor, nearly half of all college graduates have jobs that do not require a college degree.  And for millions of college graduates the situation will not get better once the economy improves because more than a bad economy is at play.  Today’s job market has new rules about how to prepare, enter, survive and prosper.

 I am talking to parents because there are a number of things they can do at different points along the way to help their student steer clear of having to accept any old job that happens their way at graduation.  It all depends, of course, on where the student is along their educational journey.  Four critically imortant points along the way include include pre-college; freshman and sophomore years; junior and senior years; and after graduation.    

If nothing else, be sure and engage your student in the following ways at each point..

  • Pre-college:  Parents are usually so concerned about issues with getting admitted, how to pay for college, and their student’s choice of major they forget to have the critically important discussion about why attend college in the first place.    Every year more than 75% of all college bound high school seniors’ report they want to attend college for vocational reasons.  I.e., to get a good job.  Unfortunately, it often is not something they think about again until graduation.  Well before then there needs to be follow-on discussions about what is required to make a good job at graduation hapapen.  The question and accompanying discussion is intended to stimulate a thought process rather than provide specific answers.  Students with clear cut objectives tend to do better than those without them.
  • College freshmen and sophomores:  The dropout rate among fulltime students who begin a bachelor’s degree at a 4 year college is substantial—perhaps as high as 42% (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=40).   Even though nearly 50% with degrees have jobs that do not require them, a college degree is a minimum requirement for consideration for most professional employment opportunities.  Job 1 for freshmen and sophomores is survival.  The university has plenty of resources available to help students remain in school.  Both parent and student need to be aware of how to use them.
  • Those who have graduated and have yet to land that first professional job should beware—time is speeding by.  They need to put all their energy into a job search and avoid staying in a job that does not require a college degree.  Before long, that job, rather than the degree, will define their standing in the job market.

Students are busy enjoying independent living away from mom and dad rather than focused on future employment opportunities.  By the time of a more complete understanding, it will be time to graduate and they may have to take any old job that happens to come along.    

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