Tag Archives: students

Applying for college. Applying for a job?

We have acknowledged applying for college can be a stressful pursuit, sometimes.

And the potential for stress can often be heightened if prospective students pile on worry and concern for landing a job after college graduation.

But just as we pointed out in our post last week stress doesn’t have to creep into the college application process if students go about the process methodically.

Boston Globe writers Clayton Christensen and Michelle Weise report in the May 11th issue 50% of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed.

Dr. Christensen reports in the same piece that 96% of  chief academic officers at universities believe they are doing a good job of preparing students for jobs.

But only 11% of employers believe colleges and universities are graduating students with the skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive work environment.

I know what you are thinking if you are a prospective college student: “I am not even in college so why should I think about getting a job after I graduate?”

What you may be missing is getting into college and getting a job upon graduation are very much related to each other.

It is reasonable to assume one of the reasons you want to go to college is to help you get a job after graduation; a job that will allow you to live reasonably well. But if you wait until your senior year in college or don’t investigate the career counseling services of the colleges still on your list, you are decreasing your chances of getting a good job after you leave college.

The New College GuideLike last week, I am suggesting that you pick up your copy of my book, The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job, and review the questions related to career counseling services and jobs after graduation.

Let’s do this together.

Review the following questions:

  • Question 37 –  Who Can help Me Find a Job?
  • Question 38 –  What About Employment after Graduation?

Be sure you have a clear understanding from each of the schools still on your college application list of when the school begins advising students about career options and what each school does to help graduates secure jobs.  And you want to know the kind of jobs the graduates secured.

This is your life and your future. Take charge of it.  Ask the right questions.  Now let’s go for an ice cream.

Who Will Teach Me at College?

College GuideIt doesn’t not occur to most college-bound students to ask the simple questions, “who will teach me at college?”

Nearly everyone assumes – certainly a reasonable assumption – the teachers at college will be fully tenured, college professors. Or, at least, graduate students on their way to becoming college professors.

But we can no longer make that assumption.

If you have read The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out, and Get  a Job, you will know that one of the questions you should ask before you apply to any college or university is who teaches first year students.  Are the instructors full-time, tenured faculty, or are they adjunct teachers or graduate assistants?

According to a recent report, the majority of professors are now adjuncts, teaching part-time in several schools.  They are often given little advance notice of what course they will be teaching. They may not even have an office or office hours, making it difficult for a first year student to get advice outside of the classroom.

There are many excellent adjunct professors and graduate teaching assistants. But I do not believe that they are the best instructors for first-year students.

Schools that use adjuncts do so to save money. The interests of the students, in my opinion, are secondary to the monetary benefit of using part-time instructors.  Adjunct faculty cannot provide the same kind of educational experience and academic advising provided by a full-time professor.

I believe the classroom professor is the most important factor in student success, especially in the first year.

The best schools in the country put their best teachers in first-year classrooms.  Be certain you know who teaches first-year courses before turning in your application.

Primer on College Reference Guides

There is no shortage of very good college reference guides to help students and families work through college selection.

I am happy to recommend several – and most have online components to make your research even easier.

I encourage you to visit and study:

  • College Navigator. This site is sponsored by the Department of Education and contains a database of thousands of colleges and universities. The schools are listed by location, program and degree offerings.
  • The University of Texas at Austin  Web U.S. Higher Education. This site provides links to the home pages of four year colleges and universities throughout the U.S.
  • Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities ((AJCU).  This site is sponsored by Jesuit colleges and will give you information on all Jesuit schools.
  • Hillel International. This is the official site of Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
  • Women’s Colleges. This site will give you information on women’s colleges in the U.S.
  • Black Excel. This site provides information for African American students
  • NCAA.  This website provides useful information for anyone interested in varsity athletics at schools who are members of the NCAA.
  • FAFSA.  This is the federal site for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  If you are applying for need-based aid, you will need to visit this site.
  • FAFSA.  This site allows families to get estimates of their expected family contribution.
  • Fastweb.  This site provides information on scholarships as well as expected family contribution calculator.
  • Finaid.  This is a general purpose site with lots of information about financial aid.
  • Federal Student Aid.  This is a comprehensive government site with information in both English and Spanish.

Please take the time to review any and all of the information on these sites.  It can only help you narrow your choices and find the best school for you.

Some college behavior still protected by privacy

In these days when it seems nothing is private,  college students still have a right of privacy in some matters.

You should be aware of two federal laws which protect your privacy:

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health, Information, Portability, and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

  • FERPA laws prevent colleges and universities from releasing information about academic or disciplinary matters to anyone, including parents, without the consent of the student.
  • HIPAA prevents health care providers from releasing information to anyone, including parents, about a student’s health record.

Colleges and universities are allowed to give out public information that is available online.  Some schools will provide information, especially if drugs or alcohol are involved.  But each school has its own published set of rules and you and your parents should be aware of the guidelines before you enroll on campus.

Many parents are annoyed that even though they are paying the bill, they don’t have access to their child’s academic or health records.

It was at the graduation ceremony for my second daughter, when she received a number of academic awards, that my husband and I were first made aware of how smart she was and how successful her college career had been.  I was proud of her, of course, but I admit that I felt annoyed that up to that point, we had not received any formal notification from the school about her grades or progress.

These laws have as many supporters as they do detractors.  I guess I fall into the latter category.  But the laws are the laws.  I urge you and your parents to know what they are so you won’t be either surprised or disappointed.

How to Get a Job at Google

Maybe Google values skills you learn in college,  not necessarily the college degree itself.

I know anyone reading this blog knows Google but perhaps you may not have considered what is required to work for the tech giant.

In an article published on April 19, 2014,  New York Times writer Thomas Friedman shares some of his conversation with Mr. Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of all hiring at Google.  (They hire about 100 new people each week.)

Mr. Bock stresses the importance of creating value with what you know.  He cautions that having a college degree does not guarantee that you will have the skills or traits to do any job.

The first thing Google looks for in a new hire is general cognitive ability or the ability to learn new things and solve problems.  Having the ability to understand and apply information is essential.  A solid liberal arts education will help.

The New College GuideIn compiling your resume, Mr. Bock recommends framing your strengths by demonstrating that what you have accomplished will create value.  Be explicit about the thought process behind why you did something.

College is a huge investment of time and money and you should think long and hard about what you are getting in return. Make sure, Mr. Bock recommends, that you are learning the skills that will be valued in today’s workplace.

In my book, The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out & Get a Job, I talk about skills college students should develop in college and how to find colleges or universities that will help you develop those skills.

What are college graduate job skills?

One tends to read quite a bit, these days, about college graduate job skills (or the lack thereof).

Let me be very clear:  I do not believe you should enroll in college just to get a job.  

Neither should your major be a subject in which you have little or no interest only because the job prospects are good. College is much more.  It is a time to explore your interests and discover new talents. It’s a time to make life-long friendships.

The unemployment rate for college graduates was 3.8% last year. (High school graduates had an unemployment re of 7.4 %.)  But in a collaborative report between The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace, published in March of 2013, about 50% of 700 employers who participated in the study said they had trouble finding qualified college graduates to fill positions in their company. 

According to the employers in the study, college graduates need to have the following skills:

  • Good written and oral communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Ability to manage multiple priorities
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Ability to collaborate
  • Flexibility
  • Knowing how retrieve and use information in a workplace situation.

College GuideThe New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job recommends:

  • Be your own advocate.
  • Go through the list of employable skills as you progress from your first to last year.
  • Be certain you are the graduate that future employers need and want.

The College Corporate Connection; or lack thereof

The college-corporate connection isn’t always a tight one, especially when it comes to views of employment following graduation.

A recent blog published by Intead outlined the differences between what college presidents think is important in getting a job after graduation and what employers believe is important.

Among the findings:

  • College presidents believe that a school’s reputation, a graduate’s internships, major, GPA, and employment during college were the most important factors.
  • Employers believe that internships, employment during college, college major, volunteer experiences and extracurricular activities were important when evaluating a potential employee.  College GPA and reputation came in last. 
  • Headlines stress how many college graduates are looking for jobs while living in their parents’ basements.  But that is only part of the story.  Employers have jobs that they cannot fill because college graduates do not have the necessary skills.
  • Increasingly corporations are partnering with colleges and universities to meet their future workforce needs to comprar cialis sin receta.  For example, IBM has created the Academic Initiative, and is working with colleges and universities to develop curricula that will help college graduates develop data skills needed to meet “Big Blue’s” future workforce needs.  Georgetown University, Northwestern University, the National University of Singapore and the University of Missouri are all participating schools.

The New College GuideThe New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out and Get a Job recommends:

  • Meeting with staff in your school’s career counseling office to learn of any corporate partnerships.
  • Also get a list of all internships and off-site work opportunities.  
  • Be your own advocate and plot your own employment experience while in college.
  • You now know this is important to future employees.

The SAT is revised. Is it better? No.

Even with revisions, the SAT remains a seriously flawed – and therefore poor – indicator of college aptitude and qualification.

The first Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT,  was administered in June, 1926.  Students had 97 minutes to answer 315 questions.  For almost 90 years, the results of what most educational experts believe is a flawed test, have dominated admission applications and decisions.

Recently the College Board announced that it is altering the exam to include the following changes:

  • The mandatory essay has been eliminated.
  • A perfect score is 1600.
  • Changes in some sections of the advanced mathematics part of the exam have been eliminated. 
  • Obscure vocabulary words have been replaced.

Regardless of the suggested changes, the SAT remains a controversial exam. The poorest test takers score 400 points lower than richer students. The rich can pay for expensive test prep courses; the poor cannot.  Critics claim that this makes it relatively easy to game the system.

For too many years the most elite colleges and universities have used the exam to eliminate applicants with low SAT scores.  

  • Is there a connection between SAT scores and college rankings?
  • Has the exam become another “gatekeeper?”
  • How many college presidents and boards of trustees pressure enrollment management and admission deans to improve the average SAT scores of the next incoming class?
  • How many college presidents and boards of trustees examine, after one year, the grade point averages of the freshmen who entered with high SAT scores and those who did not?  
  • How many presidents and board of trustees examine the SAT scores of graduating seniors?

The New College GuideCritics of the exam, me included, believe that a better way to measure the academic competency of applicants is to examine their four year high school grades and progression. No one’s academic career should be judged by the results of one exam on one specific day.

The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get out, and Get a Job recommends: 

  • Investigate the hundreds of colleges and universities who are SAT-optional.

Before enrolling in college, ask these questions.

We know enrolling in college is one of life’s biggest steps – and a very exciting one!

The world changes, a quantum shift – both for students and for parents. A lot of research and thought pays off prior to applying to your first choices.

Before filing an application to any college or university, I would schedule a meeting or speak with a financial aid counselor and get answers to the following questions:

  • Is the school blind to financial need when considering admission?
  • Is the school’s policy to meet full need?
  • What percentage of students receives merit aid and what percentage receive need-based aid?
  • Will my admission application be treated differently if we do not file for financial aid? Will I have an advantage?
  • If my high school grades are outstanding, am I certain to receive a merit scholarship?
  • If my family’s financial situation does not change, will I receive the same amount of financial aid each year?
  • How will an outside scholarship impact my financial aid award?
  • What can I do if I need more money to attend your school? Is there an appeal process?

The New College Guide by Marguerite-J-Dennis FeaturedThe New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job recommends:

  • Establish a relationship with a financial aid counselor before you enroll.
  • Be honest in all of your dealing with the financial aid office.
  • Get everything in writing and keep accurate records of all of your meetings with your financial aid counselor.

College financial aid: What is the FAFSA?

Getting accepted at a college or university can be confusing enough but applying for financial aid can be overwhelming,  particularly at one’s first glance at the FAFSA.

Just, exactly, what is the FAFSA and what purpose does it serve? Do you really need to fill it out? (Hint: the answer is yes.)

FAFSAThe Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form families must submit to all of the colleges and universities on their list before being applying for financial aid.  

Based on the information on your FAFSA, an Expected Family Calculation (EFC), will be computed and based on that your eligibility for federal aid, most state aid programs, institutional aid and aid from private sources or organizations.

Families will be asked to complete the FAFSA with the following information:

  • Taxed and untaxed income
  • Specific assets (social security income and home equity are not considered assets)
  • Family size
  • Parental ages
  • Number of children in the family and the number in college

Families can file the FAFSA online.  It takes approximately three to four weeks for your FAFSA to be processed. You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) after that time indicating what your family is expected to contribute to your college expenses.

The New College GuideThe New College Guide How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job recommends:

  • Find out before you file a FAFSA if you can afford all of the schools on your list by meeting with financial aid counselors before you file any application.
  • You can also estimate your EFC by using a financial aid calculator. Check out the Department of Education’s website.   Another useful website is BigFuture .
  • Don’t try to game the system. It never works.  Financial aid counselors have heard it all before.
  • File the FAFSA as early as possible, even before you file your income taxes. You can go  back and amend your FAFSA after your taxes are filed. You can also have your tax returns automatically and electronically transferred into your FAFSA. 
  • If you really believe the EFC does not accurately reflect your family’s contribution, you should appeal your case to the financial aid director.