Editor’s note: A version of this post was originally published on Admitted in December 2015. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.
For Gail Grand’s students, the college search process is about more than just picking a campus.
Teens complete an aptitude and interest test and explore careers before ever submitting applications. The strategy is a smart one.
Fewer than four in 10 college students graduate in four years, federal data show. And as tuition rates continue to grow, extra years in school can often mean additional debt.
Tapping into resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) helps teens make wise college choices, said Grand, an independent college counselor based in California’s Westlake Village. It also increases students’ likelihood of graduating on time, she noted.
Requiring undergraduates to complete an internship would benefit both students and colleges, according to Brandon Busteed, executive director for education and workforce development at Gallup.
“The top reason students, parents, and the public value higher education is to get a good job,” Busteed noted in a blog post co-written by Zac Auter, a consulting analyst at Gallup. “Yet, among bachelor degree graduates from 2002-2016, only 27 percent had a good job waiting for them upon graduation.”
They say the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. This is especially true when it comes to job choice.
According to General Social Survey data collected between 1994 and 2016, working sons are about 2.7 times as likely as the rest of the population to have the same job as their working fathers and about two times as likely to have the same job as their working mothers.
Macalester College (MN), Amherst College (MA), Pace University (NY), and the University of Chicago are among a growing number of institutions that offer stipends to students who pursue unpaid internships.
The strategy, featured in a recent New York Times article, is growing in popularity because it allows low- and middle-income students to foster critical connections in their field of interest without worrying about making ends meet. According to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, roughly half of all interns are offered a job by the company where they worked.
It’s a scenario counselors know well: A student proudly announces they’re applying to college and plans to study physics.
So far so good. But then comes the kicker. What does the student hope to do with their degree? Cure cancer.
But as many counselors know, a degree in biology or in the health sciences offers a more direct route to cancer research, said Nicole Murphy, director of college access and financial aid strategies with PUC Schools, a California nonprofit charter school organization serving students in Northeast Los Angeles and the Northeast San Fernando Valley.
So this spring, Murphy launched a new initiative aimed at helping teens make connections between their interests and the college search process. Thirty industry experts and college department heads shared their insights with students during PUC’s inaugural College Majors & Careers Event in March.
The event, which served 520 high school juniors, was supported by a $1,000 grant from NACAC’s Imagine Fund.
What role should school counselors play in helping students explore careers?
An article published this month by the National Career Development Association asserts that teens are best served when given opportunities to participate in internships and explore earnings data while still in high school.
The study — funded by Change the Equation and the Amgen Foundation— showed that although students like science, they aren’t crazy about the way the subject is taught. In addition, many lack the out-of-school resources and connections needed to explore STEM careers on their own.
“Teens know what good science education looks like, but they lack engaging learning opportunities, career guidance, and professional mentors,” the report states. “Science advocates in our schools, businesses, and communities can change that.”