Choose Your Major Carefully

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Sep 14, 2011 in , , | No Comments

College students and grads may be going down the wrong road…

A Rutgers study found 62% of grads believe they need more education to be successful, however a ManpowerGroup study found 1/3 of employers worldwide complain they can’t find qualified workers. The good news is we have an abundance of college grads–the bad news is they don’t hold degrees in fields where they are most needed.

The Right Majors Matter

In Time magazines article, “Now What?”, by Roya Wolverson, she found college grads who majored in education or engineering are more likely to land a job that matches “the rigor of their college degree” than are grads who majored in the humanities, (according to 2009 Labor Department data). I have found more demand for those graduating with specific science and engineering degrees, not for grads with education degrees. Here in California, we’ve had massive teacher layoffs and millions of dollars in budget cuts to our public school system.

There are employers who continually ask why schools aren’t supplying them with qualified candidates, however it’s not the schools responsibility to demand students choose a certain major. Campus career centers can provide information regarding demand for those with science and engineering degrees. However, if students don’t have an interest (or the ability) to go into these subjects, there will continue to be a deficit. Meanwhile, there’s an overabundance of unemployed liberal arts grads wondering what to do next.

Employers Must Get Involved

Companies crying out for more employable candidates must do their part and get involved early in the process–in high schools–before students head off to college with a major emblazoned in their brains. Here is where companies need to be investing much time and money in their communities, grooming future workers to fill their own needs.

Most public high schools and colleges in the U.S. are struggling to keep their doors open, eliminating classes from schedules students want and need to be contenders in the workplace–not to mention graduate on time. By supporting schools, employers can take an active role in making talent more employable for the future.

A Mentors Role Valuable

Students and grads might avoid making costly mistakes, and added debt with more education, if they take advantage of mentors in their industry of interest. These professionals can provide valuable information regarding long-term employment in their field and may guide mentees to opportunities. For example, if a student is interested in education, but lives in California, their mentor may point out the current unemployment rate of educators and financial issues plaguing education in that state. They may provide information for teaching opportunities out of state, where educators are in short supply, but where budgets for schools are still sound.

Mentors may be the golden bridge between future employees and employers, fostering a workable relationship. Employers might be convinced by mentors to take on student interns, trained under the employers roof, giving them incentive to major in specific degrees the employer values. Upon graduation, these interns could have a job waiting, creating a win-win situation.

Academic Advisors, etc.

There are a handful of people every student needs to visit on a regular basis, the academic advisor is just one. It’s imperative to discuss, possibly quarterly, how you are fairing. This is not limited to doing well in classes, but how you actually feel about those classes. I know too many people who did well in college, but wound up not thrilled with their field of study. Being in close touch with an advisor taps into these issues and changes can be made long before graduation occurs.

Be sure to stay in close touch with the career center on campus, ask for information (locally and nationally) regarding your field of study. You’ll want to keep a close watch on short-term and long-term job opportunity projections, the best companies for new grads, and other pertinent information.

By being honest with yourself about your chosen field, and realistic regarding future opportunities, the small group of professionals which surround you can be valuable guides to ensure success. Take advantage of their expertise often.



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