That colleges do not provide career planning shouldn’t be news to anyone. But over the years of working with Connecticut parents as they send their kids off to college, I know that most parents believe that the practical burden of helping their children has been removed. Specifically, other than tuition payments and other financial assistance, many parents think that their children will figure out what to do for a career while in college. After all, didn’t we?
We had it a lot easier. Jobs were easier to come by and the choices were not as bewildering. But that’s not the reason for confusion. Parents tour colleges and eagerly listen to discussions about the career services offered at the college. Not only are these services woefully inadequate as the research in the article suggests but they generally do almost nothing in relation to helping their students figure out what they want to do for their careers.
Even if the name of some of the career service offices is titled “Career Planning and Placement”, 90-95% of the service relates to job placement. This, of course, is not a bad thing. Getting companies to come to campus to interview students for jobs, helping students secure internships, and providing resume advice is valuable. None of it, however, helps students figure out what they want to do.
So, for example, let’s examine the most highly ranked college in Connecticut. Yale does an excellent job in getting the top New York investment banks to send representatives to New Haven. That it is Yale, of course, is the reason why Yale can do so but the University of New Haven cannot. Nonetheless, it is still hard work to convince someone at Goldman Sachs to interview in New Haven. They are busy and, as much as I like New Haven, it is not New York.
Top performing Yale students line up for these interviews and some, of course, are hired. I meet them a few years later for career counseling when they are burned out, miserable, and wondering why they didn’t realize they would hate investment banking. Part of the reason is that they didn’t spend any real time figuring out what they wanted to do for a career. They just latched onto the next gold star they saw.
This happens in different degrees to students at every college in Connecticut. It might be that those at Western Connecticut have fewer options than those at Yale but they, too, are often latching onto whatever opportunity is thrown their way during senior year.
This holiday break might be a good time for a career counseling session. It might change your child’s life.