How Do You Help Students Avoid the Quarter-Life Crisis?

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Pamela Weinberg
Website: www.pamelaweinberg.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/pamelaweinberg/
Twitter: @pamelaweinberg
Blogs from Pamela Weinberg.

I have had the pleasure and disappointment of meeting with a slew of young professionals in my career coaching practice of late. It is a pleasure, because I enjoy connecting with these bright, interesting and thoughtful Millennials. It is disappointing, however, that so many of them are unhappy with their post-college career choices. A few years out of college, they are experiencing some of the symptoms of a so-called “quarter-life crisis.” There has been much written about the quarter-life crisis affecting recent the college graduate starting out a career and living on his or her own for the first time. These young adults may be faced with their first crisis of confidence and feel adrift. Many feel dissatisfied with their job choices and/or chosen career path and don’t know where to turn for help.

How we can help prevent young alumni from falling into a quarter-life crisis? One way to mitigate these issues for the next slew of college grads is for colleges and universities to take a more active role in preparing students for the workplace. Those students majoring in one of STEM fields or who are pre-med most likely have a more direct and focused career path than an English major with a degree that opens him or her up to dozens of potential job or career possibilities. But just what are those possibilities and how is a student to know about them? Without exposure to a myriad of careers and a sense of which skills/aptitudes are needed to succeed at which jobs, it is a challenge for students to find their perfect fit post-graduation. Ben Carpenter’s recent op-ed in The New York Times has received a lot of attention as he brings this issue to the fore and calls on colleges and universities to offer courses in “career training” which would begin freshman year and end senior year.

Others seem to agree. In a new book entitled Aspiring Adults Adrift sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa speak about colleges and universities “focusing too much on students’ social lives at the expense of strong academic and career road map.” The authors go on to recommend programs that “facilitate school-to-work transitions, in terms of internships, apprenticeships and job-placement programs.”

Career services offices at colleges and universities have always been the student nexus for career- and job-search advice—but as we know, not all students take advantage of the resources there. In championing the idea of four years of career training for college students, Ben Carpenter cites Connecticut College which offers a career training program that has proven quite successful. According to Carpenter, one year after graduation, 96 percent of Connecticut College alumni are employed or in graduate school. That is in stark contrast to the numbers from a recent job poll conducted by AfterCollege, the online entry-level job site. According to the poll, 83 percent of college seniors graduated this year without a job.

The letters to the editor of The New York Times, which followed the Carpenter piece, were squarely split. Most educators were against schools offering career training programs, while most parents were for it. It seems however, that there is more that can be done to prevent recent alums from floundering a few years post-graduation. However, whether these are offerings from career services or through other academic departments is a topic up for debate.

I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and suggestions on the topic!

An Insider’s Look at First-Destination Surveys

Vanessa Newton

Vanessa Newton, Program Analyst, University of Kansas
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vlnewt
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/vanessaliobanewton
Blog: www.wellnessblogging.com

 

(Part 1 of 4 on early adoption of the NACE First-Destination Survey Standards.)

When the NACE First-Destination Survey Standards and Protocols were released early this year, I went through the continuum of emotions. Happiness? Check. Worry? Yup. Frustration? You betcha! I had all the feelings. But, when I settled in to figure out how to implement these new standards and protocols, I learned a few things along the way. So, today is the first post in a four-post series written by me and my colleague, Katrina Zaremba, communications coordinator, giving you an inside look as to how the University Career Center at the University of Kansas (KU) is implementing these new standards.

First things first—no, this isn’t a reference to a slightly annoying song—if you have not read the standards and protocols, I would highly recommend you do that first. I’ll wait. Go on…oh you already read them? Well then… Ok, let’s get into the top three things that we changed/implemented at KU based off the standards and protocols, shall we?

One of the first things I did was change our survey. Previously, we just asked if graduates were employed full-time or part-time, attending graduate school, seeking employment, or not seeking employment. The additions that were made to this question excited me greatly. I loved the phrasing of “continuing education” versus “attending graduate school” since some of our graduates were not going on to graduate school, rather just getting additional schooling or a certificate. It was an easy change to add the additional categories and I think it will be interesting to see the data we get back and how it differs from previous years.

The second thing I needed to do was change how we defined our graduating class. We previously defined them as December, May, and August graduates, and now we define them as August, December, and May graduates. I’ll admit, it is a small change and a relatively easy one to make, but I really appreciated that the standards defined the graduating class. Small change, big impact, in my opinion.

Finally, we implemented “knowledge rate” last year, but we now have a very intense goal to reach to get to a 65 percent knowledge rate. We had a ~19 percent response rate from the surveys we sent to students and then bumped up our knowledge rate to ~40 percent with gaining information from LinkedIn and other reputable sources (a.k.a. some of our staff knew the graduates or the university paper wrote a story on where graduates go after they leave KU—two out of the three hadn’t responded to the survey and we couldn’t find them on LinkedIn…success!). We have been active and alert for any information regarding graduates and where they are going after they leave.

So there it is. Changing the survey, defining our graduating class, and implementing knowledge rate plus keying into ways that you can achieve that 65 percent. These are small changes/steps that you can take to ease into implementing the standards and protocols at your school.

Stay tuned for more posts from Katrina and me—we have a great series planned, giving you an inside look at our marketing, data analysis, and reporting, and providing some after thoughts once the first destination season has finished.

Feel free to use the comment section to leave your feedback and tips as well. Let’s open the conversation and share our stories! If there is interest, we may even do a bonus Q & A post in regard to first-destination surveys!

For more information on first-destination surveys, see the Advocacy section of NACEWeb.

 

The Assessment Diaries: Implementing NACE First Destination Standards

Desalina Allen

Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

If you haven’t been living under a rock (or trampled by a continual flow of student traffic) you know that the amazing NACE First-Destination Survey Task Force put together some guidelines to help career offices align the way we collect post-graduation outcome data for undergraduate students. You can view the standards, a sample survey, and an informative webinar hosted by Manny Contomanolis, who chaired the task force, on the NACE website.

The standards are not meant to give you a detailed, step-by-step, roadmap. Instead, they are guidelines are a framework to ensure that as a profession we are aligned in terms of our timeframe and the basic type of information we are collecting.

There is an emphasis on flexibility and professional judgment—acknowledging that institutions will add their own questions or adapt their surveys to ensure they are able to meet existing reporting requirements. Additionally, as mentioned in the webinar, these standards have and will continue to evolve.  

With that being said, I will be sharing details of how we are applying the standards to our existing first-destination survey process at NYU. I would love to hear and include other schools’ interpretations as well.  Please contact me or leave your comments below if you would like to participate!

The topics I will be touching on include:

  • Timeline: Defining our graduating class and planning for when and how to collect their placement information

  • Survey Instrument:  Designing and testing our survey; Ensuring the questions/data align with NACE standards

  • Survey Distribution/Data Collection: Partnering with schools to distribute the survey; Collecting information from various sources (electronic and phone survey, faculty, employers, etc.)

  • Data Analysis/Integrity: Verifying results, cleaning and analyzing information

Desalina Allen writes about assessment. She will be blogging occasionally about New York University’s Wasserman Center for Career Development process as an early adopter of the First Destination Survey Standards.

Read more from Desalina Allen.