3 Reasons Your Career Center Needs More Resources

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I’m just finishing up a white paper called Career Centered College Culture & Curriculum, which –at 70 pages– is becoming more of a book!

My goal was to try to build a road map a college could follow that would focus the college culture and curriculum– not ONLY on the degree but how that degree will translate to a job.

There are three reasons why I think your college should be putting more resources into your career center.

1) Government

With the total value of student loan debt tipping over the $1 TRILLION mark and  outstripping the total credit card debt of ALL consumers, Congress is starting to focus on the cost of education, students’/alumni’s return on investment which is leading them to evaluate the “truth in advertising” techniques used by all educational institutions.

The Federal government provides over $30 billion dollars in loans and grants each year and another $30 billion in research grants to colleges.  Now that they are “holding the bag” for a trillion dollars, and their constituents are beating them up with stories about the inability to get jobs and pay back their student loans, they are listening.  The Dodd-Frank law requires the Education Department and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to report on private education loans by July 2012. As part of that, the consumer bureau recently announced it was seeking answers from students, schools and lenders to a series of questions. You should anticipate the student loan process will undergo a whole new set of rules, regulations,  and qualifications which will affect which schools, majors, and subjects students take.  The results have the potential to require colleges to fundamentally reinvent how they do business.

The “gainful employment” legislation is their first notice to all colleges to begin making changes in the way they market, operate and serve their customers.   All colleges should carefully read the requirements posted in a bill that, although it has a slow fuse, is already changing recruiting behaviors.

Colleges and universities who step up to the plate and center their college education around making sure graduates have successful careers will be ahead of future legislative changes and public relation issues.

2) Contributions

If the value of the diploma continues to diminish and the satisfaction of a record number of new graduates continues to decrease, the college could face decades of declining contributions.

I was talking to Gerry Crispen, co-founder of CareerXroads, who holds regular meetings with the top human resources people in the country, He shared with me a personal story about this.  Gerry was about attending a speaker’s presentation 35 years ago, where a little know theologian who wrote a new book,  What Color is Your Parachute, and suggested that “employed alumni are giving alumni!”

Is your college doing everything in its power to help advance the careers of not only your grads, but your alumni?  Are you putting their personal and business successes before your call for donations?   You know the phrase, “You have to give before you ask.”   If you invest MORE in their careers, I guarantee they will have more to share with you over their lifetimes.  By taking this step, you will not have to beg for money, alumni will gladly give back.

3) Alternative Education

A 2010 report by the Sloan Consortium showed the percentage of students taking online courses was surging. 2009 saw a record 17 percent increase on top of the previous year’s 12 percent increase.

That is contrasted by an only 1.2 percent growth rate of the overall higher-education student population.

The behaviors of consumers are changing fast and the internet continues to disintermediate industries.  It started with the annihilation of something called the Encyclopedia Britannica, stormed through the travel, entertainment, music industries, and it’s literally blowing the printed book industry apart.

SmartPhones have become the fastest adopted “appliance” in the history of electronics and they, along with SmartPads, are opening a new behavior and marketing/engagement channel for students and alumni.

New online education models are developing that are cheaper and more flexible and yet provide to a degree that the business world seems to accept.  Organizations that do not adapt to these changes may find themselves modifying some of their college dorms and buildings as retirement communities.

It’s also the right thing to do!

We mentioned a startling statistic discovered by the recent NACE Research report, which indicated the average 2011 grad took 7.4 months to get a job.

Imagine if you were able to give your graduates the right skills to stand out in a crowded job market and you reduced that average to just 4 months!  Assuming the average graduate is earning $3,500 per month, or $21 per hour, reducing the college to job cycle by 3 months would be worth over $10,000 to each graduate.

Now that is a graduation present every graduate would thank you for!



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Don Philabaum
Love to find ways to use technology help more grads and alumni develop successful career strategies.
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum

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