Senior year of high school is a wonderful time filled with lots of senior
year activities, friends, college applications and plans for the
future. As you plan for the future and begin making decisions, the
following steps may help.
First, identify colleges that are of interest to you. What’s important to you in a college campus? Questions you should ask yourself include:
What kind of college do I want to attend?
Public or private?
Christian or secular?
If you are visiting this web site you obviously have some interest or desire in exploring a private or Christian college. Even among private colleges there are plenty of differences. How about the location of the campus and its distance from home? Does it have the academic program(s) you’re interested in? What are the academic requirements for admissions? What Co-curricular activities do they offer?
Once you have determined the colleges that meet your criteria, one of the best pieces of advice I can give to a high school student is to visit each college. To truly understand and know a campus a visit is necessary. Campus visits may differ between colleges, but typically college visits include a meeting with a representative from the admissions office, a campus tour, possibly a meal in the dining hall, and at some colleges the opportunity to sit in on a class.
One office on campus that may be overlooked during a campus visit is the college’s Career Services Office. The Career Services Office can often provide you with important data on how well graduates from the college are doing in their careers as well as average salaries and help in gaining admissions to graduate and professional schools.
Choosing a career or even a major can be a frustrating and confusing time for college students. It is the goal of the Career Services Office to provide assistance and answers to questions students may have concerning career or life planning, including:
What do I want to with my life?
Which major should I select?
What type of jobs are available to graduates in my major?
What sort of experiences do I need to be hired after I graduate?
Many, if not most, Career Centers provide individual or group career counseling, workshops, job listings and career fairs. Often times the Career Centers have assessment programs available: Myers-Briggs, Strong, Holland, Discover, Choices, and Pinpoint, to name a few. This is often the best place to start your career planning process. These programs can help you and your advisor identify personality type, occupational interest, personal attributes, strengths, etc. all of which contribute to job satisfaction and success. Knowing this information can empower you to make wise decisions when it comes to choosing a major and a career.
Career Centers often provide a variety of events to assist students in learning more about career options as well. One such example is alumni panels where students can ask questions of alumni and begin networking with professionals currently working in their field of interest. “Shadowing” opportunities where students have the opportunity to spend a day with an alum or member of the community is another possibility. Opportunities like these can often provide insight that a student may not receive in a classroom setting.
So once you have decided on a major and a career path, what’s next? Many academic majors require or strongly recommend that before a student graduates they take part in a semester or perhaps a year-long internship. Internships provide practical training in your particular field. Often times internship opportunities are listed in the Career Services Office. The Career Center staff can provide more details about the requirements for that internship; assist you in writing a resume, and perhaps even conduct a mock interview.
While some students may wait until their senior year to visit the Career Center, my strongest recommendation to college students is to visit the Career Center early and often. Today’s job market can be a tough one and the Career Center staff is there to assist students in identifying their strengths as well as marketable skills, and to make your transition from college student to working professional as smooth as possible.
A special thanks to the author of this article:
Mary F. Flaherty
Director of Career Services
Roberts Wesleyan College
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