The Importance of Infusing a Career Mindset into the Collegiate Experience
Some students go to college knowing exactly what they want to do. But most don’t. Faced with a continuously growing number of choices, students must select their academic major from among hundreds of options. For them, it can feel like a blindfolded game of darts. But adopting a career mindset early in the collegiate experience takes the blindfold off and helps narrow down the wide world of possibilities. Looking for colleges that prioritize career development, makes it easier for students to link the classroom experience to post-graduate career success: finding meaningful employment.
Unfortunately, many students do not take advantage of career services until their senior year, while some students disregard them altogether. Why?
There is a disconnect between the career support services students need and those they are receiving. While work outcomes are the main reason most people choose higher education*, not all colleges integrate a career mindset or career exposure into the experience. Many leave it up to the students to avail themselves of opportunities: visit the career center, initiate conversations with their professors, find an internship, pick a “good” major, etc. At these schools, a career focus is thought of as extracurricular; and if it’s “extra” and not required, it usually doesn’t get done.
The colleges that are helping students truly succeed, especially neurodiverse students (who statistically have lower employment rates than their neurotypical peers), are building career-ready skills into the curriculum. Career counseling helps students narrow things down, pick and stick to a direction, and go.
When “career” is part of the educational experience, and not an “extra” to be discovered only by those who take the initiative or happen to have a great faculty or staff mentor pointing them in the right direction, students benefit. “Helping students clarify a work-related purpose for pursuing a postsecondary pathway may boost persistence and completion, and ensure they realize their main motivation for attending – to find a job and launch their career.” *
Colleges that connect internships and/or co-ops as a graduation requirement are off to a good start. Universities that connect course learning objectives to the skills employers are seeking are winning—because the students are then winning.
A focus on career is a powerful tool not simply because it is related to employment and life after school, developing a career mindset helps students make better, more informed decisions about their studies.
Years ago, college was seen as a way to develop the mind and deepen cognitive flexibility—education for the sake of education. Today, the goal of college must be creating opportunities for growth and learning in a way that equips students with the skills needed to enter the workforce.
At Focus Collegiate, we bring student-driven goals into a career focus to form the outline of what success will look like for each student. This approach improves communication, increases curiosity, and creates the motivation that accelerates long-term success on campus and ultimately in the workforce.
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