College Leaders Must Act Now

 College Leaders Must Act Now

Some college administrators appear to think that concerns like tuition prices, student loan debt, educational outcomes, and graduate job placement rates are sensationalized by the media and are not nearly as severe or crucial as they are being made out to be. (Dr. David Maxwell, President of Drake University, “Time to Play Offense,” Inside Higher Education, 2/14/13).

How can college administrators minimize or overlook the fact that students often have to pay back $25,000 to $100,000 in college loans and credit card debt when parents and students have both made sacrifices and borrowed heavily to finance the student’s college education? In addition, parents with several children have likely taken one or more of the following actions to pay for college costs and associated expenses:

  • Take out personal loans.
  • Used their homes as collateral.
  • Raised credit card limits.
  • Drawn from retirement funds.
  • Put off major purchases, repairs, and vacations.
  • Ignored necessary medical and dental operations.

Many college administrators are unaware of the number of debt parents and students must incur to obtain a four- or six-year degree. Is it known by your Colorado Springs colleges how much debt each student will have accumulated by the time they graduate? Do they know how much each parent now owes due to the cost of their children’s college? To reach a total, try combining the amount the parents and students owed. Do your leaders seem worried? Do they take action to address the issue? By the way, student loans are not financial aid for most students. They are obligations related to student loans. You can calculate the monthly payments for 5, 10, 15, or 20 years if the average student has a debt of $35,000.

Perhaps 60% or more of families with two, three, or four children struggle financially. These families are naturally concerned with college expenses, student loan debt, learning results, and graduate placement rates. But, rightfully, parents want their kids to graduate from college with job offers that will allow them to live independently, handle their costs, and start paying back the borrowed money.

Most students desire to graduate with a decent job, ideally in their field of study, at a wage that will allow them to support themselves. Students require more assistance than they currently receive from most universities to achieve their goals. Many college administrators need to wake up, take action, and focus more on the employment needs of their students who are struggling financially. College administrators will need to organize and refocus their campus communities, offer resources, and put strategies and processes in place to enhance student employment outcomes to satisfy these demands effectively.

Ignoring a problem of this magnitude reflects poorly on college administrators. Great college leaders prioritize their students’ needs, take on challenging issues, and find solutions. Poor leaders deceive themselves and others, prioritize other goals over students, offer justifications, assign blame, oppose change, and never stop considering how many students they have kept from achieving their full potential in the labor market.

Notably, far too many institutions fail to gather, examine, use, and disseminate the data and statistics that will demonstrate how successfully they are meeting students’ employment needs. Colleges must know what they do outside of academics to serve students effectively. The following column headers can represent the elements used to assess a college’s performance in terms of job search preparation and student employment achievement. The following There should be a number entered for each major available in columns 2 through 15.

  • Chart for Student Employment Success
  • List all majors (60–100+) your college offers in Column 1, “Majors.”
  • The number of grads in each major in Column 2 under “Graduates”?
  • The number of people who took job offers directly related to their majors is in column 3 under “Related.”
  • The number of people who accepted job offers outside of their majors is listed in Column 4 under “Unrelated.”
  • Several students with no employment offers by graduation are shown in Column 5, “No Job Offer.”
  • An average number of employment offers received by students in each major is shown in column 6 under “Received.”
  • The percentage of students in each major who received one or more employment offers is shown in column 7 under “Percent.”
  • Percent improvement (+) or reduction (-) from the prior year is shown in Column 8 under “Improvement.”
  • The average dollar amount of employment offers that students in each degree received is shown in column 9 under “Dollars.”
  • The average federal dollar amount offered to students in each major is in Column 10 under “National.”
  • The number f employers visiting campus to recruit for each major are listed in Column 11 under “Employers.”
  • Student interviews for full-time jobs in each major are listed in Column 12 under “Interviews.”
  • Student interviews on campus for positions unrelated to their major are listed in column 13 under “UnRel Int.”
  • The number of internships offered in each major is listed in Column 14 under “Internships.”
  • Some part-time jobs available in each major are shown in Column 15 under “P/T Jobs.”

Note: As students graduate from college each year, colleges should update this chart. For example, after six months, Columns 3–9 can be resurveyed (using Columns 16–22) to see how many more students have been hired and how much the numbers have changed.

An average number of employment offers received by students in each major is shown in column 19 under “Received.” The percentage of students in each major who received one or more job offers is shown in column 20 under “Percent.”

This tool will make some universities uneasy, and they may choose not to use it, try to discredit it, or keep the results confidential. However, influential college executives use analytical tools to assess performance and improve decision-making. They do not ignore or conceal the facts and figures. Instead, they keep an eye on them, cherish them, and work tirelessly to improve them. MinorUnfortunately, more minor leaders try to deflect attention from their college’s performance by ignoring or hiding these figures.

College administrators that offer the most basic career and job search guidance rarely keep track of their student’s progress and can only speculate on how well-adjusted they are to the labor market. It’s conceivable that some college administrators don’t care. On the other hand, it raises concerns anytime a college administrator states something like, “97% of our students find employment within six months after graduation.” Rarely do colleges with incredibly high placement rates offer any evidence to support their claims. Would you like fries with that? It would be interesting to find out if the claim is accurate, what positions the former students currently occupy, and how much money they make.

Those college administrators are either apathetic toward their students’ welfare or unwilling to accept the facts. Such teachers are oblivious to the wants and needs of their charges. The most exemplary leaders understand that students don’t just go to college to get a decent education; they also need, desire, and expect their universities to help them prepare for a job hunt so they may successfully compete for employment possibilities.

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