Preparing today’s students for both an education and a career

Students in college

I recently came across a wonderful quote that speaks so directly to the power of education. The quote, by Dr. Rob Evans, a noted school consultant, is: “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.”

In this day and age, these words may have more currency than ever in the context of higher education and preparing new generations for their adult lives ahead. With one son in college and two daughters soon to be in high school, this notion is always near the top of my mind.

The fact is, earning a college degree is becoming more of an imperative than ever when it comes to the jobs of the 21st Century. For example, of the nearly 12 million jobs created after the end of the recent economic downturn, roughly 8 million went to those workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a recent workforce study by Georgetown University.

In addition, 76 percent of 2015’s college graduates won full-time employment or entered graduate and professional programs within six months of graduating, as reported by a new study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Increasing focus on student success

To be sure, things tend to be looking up for today’s college students and graduates compared with the recent past. Interestingly, I’m not surprised at all to hear many of our higher education customers say they’re putting renewed focus on their institutions’ career centers.

What they’re talking about is finding new ways to further integrate their staff and their centers’ services or resources – such as career counseling, information about internships and graduate studies, plus networking, recruiting and career fair activities – into the full lifecycle of each student.

The University of Notre Dame, for instance, offers a Four Year Guide that lays out, more than anything, how a student’s career development path starts at matriculation. It’s not something a student should casually kick into gear midway through senior year.

With this in mind, institutions have long known about the downsides of the silo effect in departments and offices across campus. The career center shouldn’t stand alone as an island on campus – it needs to be part and parcel of a student’s college career.

To help overcome this and optimize student service, institutions can use enterprise content management (ECM), integrated seamlessly into their student information system (SIS), to track the ongoing academic, extracurricular and career planning activities of each student. With the OnBase case management system, which includes a powerful SIS integration, career center advisors can dispense with cumbersome, inefficient paper-based processes.

Instead, they access all student information and related content in a digital student file solution, including admissions documents and real-time data pulled from the SIS and the admissions CRM. With this complete, secure view of each student, advisors are equipped to provide better service and maintain more relevant, impactful relationships with each one of their students.

Jeff Selingo, in his new book, There is Life After College, notes that what troubles him today is the abundance of recent college graduates “drifting through their twenties without a plan.”

This is an important issue. Students (with their parents’ support) want to obtain both an education as well as make themselves employable in the real world. Institutions know this and must make it a paramount, if not fundamental, part of their mission. In the end, it’s about preparing the student for the path.

Laurel Stiller

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more than 20 years of experience working to map proven solutions to higher education challenges, Laurel implemented ERP solutions at Dickinson College and University of Oregon Foundation before joining the sales and marketing team at Datatel, now Ellucian, Inc. Laurel offers a deep understanding of higher education, dedication to transparency and a fondness for candid conversations about the solutions Hyland develops and delivers to the market. You may reach her at Laurel.Stiller at onbase.com.

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