While the reports of unemployment for college graduates seem encouraging at 2.5%, the underemployment rate is worrisome at 12%. What these articles don’t tell us is why many of our college graduates are not working in the field they want. Why it takes on average 5 ½ years to get a bachelors costing between 100K and 350K. And finally, why do they change their majors 2 – 3 times before graduating?
For some of the answers we need to go back to what’s going on in the high schools. We had a great discussion last week with a local high school advisor. She has 450 students she is responsible for and her hope is to meet with them each for an hour. She is a diligent, dedicated advisor, the kids love her, and she admits “in a good year, we can reach 60%, in a bad year it’s the opposite”. The goal, she says, “work with the kids to make sure they graduate” and for those motivated kids, “most of my time is spent helping them prepare for college”. So, what happens to the rest of the kids? We all agreed that the schools aren’t funded or rated for helping kids figure out what careers & jobs best suit them.
To discover this, there are some good vocational courses to give them a taste of what it’s like to work in let’s say “cosmetology” or “auto repair”. There are programs such as FBLA, STEM and DECA that prepares and promotes entry into the work force. Additionally, there are some good assessments out there, but many are lacking because they ask questions most high school students aren’t able to answer due to lack of exposure and career knowledge. For example, would you like to be a ‘fish hatchery manager’ or a ‘mutual fund trader’. Better assessments measure cognitive/learning, interests and behaviors and match them to jobs that are best fits.
The task of launching our children is daunting for most parents. It was for us. We’ve been there and know the paths. We would love to help you with the process of discovering the job/career that matches the student and the steps to take.