Helping Your College Student Succeed in His/Her Academic and Career Life
Selecting a major program of study is one of the most difficult decisions a student will make. With so many options it is important to make an educated, informed choice. Fully understanding the impact of this decision, and how it relates to potential career options that a selected major will bring, is a concern students and parents often overlook. This is where the staff of the Career Resource Center can help.
Choosing a career involves a great deal of research, listening, discussion, and thinking. Ultimately, career choice is a series of personal choices, a continuous process, not a single, irreversible decision. The most important thing a parent can do is to encourage your student to explore many different areas to learn where their abilities lie and what they enjoy doing.
It is essential to realize that students who are uncertain about their career options are not alone. Actually, most students go through periods of uncertainty and duress. This is a completely natural stage in the process of self-discovery. What they really need is practical assistance in developing a plan of action to solve this dilemma. Unfortunately, too many college students attempt this process of academic and career planning with less research, analysis, and organization then they would in preparing a term paper or studying for an exam. It is not unusual for a student to spend 150 hours on a college research project to earn 3 academic credits. Students need to understand the importance of academic and career education and must be willing to spend at least that amount of time on career research and preparation to insure satisfaction in their work-life.
One of the most difficult adjustments students must make in the transition from high school to college is taking responsibility for seeking help. Using the Career Resource Center is entirely voluntary, as are most college services. We hope that you will encourage your son or daughter to take advantage of our service early on in his or her academic career.
It has been suggested that persons go through three developmental stages in their career decision making. The first, known as the fantasy stage, lasts up to 10 or 11 years of age. Characteristic of this stage is the belief they can be or do anything. In the tentative stage, usually lasting through ages 17 or 18, a person gradually finds out more about his/her own talents and skills, and begins to develop more realistic ideas of what he/she can and cannot do. From about 18 years on, in the "realistic" stage, the young adult is ready for serious exploration of his/her options and should begin to formulate an initial career plan.
Throughout the process parents should avoid steering a student in any one specific direction, or toward any particular career field. To facilitate this process, parents must encourage exploration of a variety of academic disciplines, and avoid discouraging academic exploration in others. Few academic majors prepare someone for a specific career while the vast majority can prepare your student for a variety of options that might fit with their particular talents, skills and interests. As a parent, you can help your student build feelings of self-confidence and worth by acknowledging how powerful this process is and that you are there to help. After developing a clearer picture of him/herself, and his/her career alternatives, your student will be able to make more informed academic and career decisions on his/her own. The best approach parents can take in helping the student through this process is to listen actively and discuss openly these issues with the student. Parents should also provide the much-needed encouragement during this tumultuous time of the student's life. Knowing that your parents are willing to support you in this process is often a very warming experience.
College career counselors and faculty advisors share a common goal with parents - to help students prepare for and make sound academic and career decisions. In a recent survey students report that among the top influences on the career preparation and decision-making process, college career services centers and parents rank near the top. Help is available for both parents and students in working out a plan, but you have to know where to look. The Career Resource Center at SUNY New Paltz offers a variety of services strictly geared toward helping parents and students tackle such difficult decisions. These services range from initial career exploration to resume and interviewing preparation. Feel free to stop by our office, located in the Administration building on the 7th floor, call us at 845-257-3265, or visit our Web site.
Top personal qualities employers seek in new graduates
- Communication Skills
- Teamwork Skills
- Leadership Skills
- Academic Achievement/GPA
- Interpersonal Skills
- Technical Skills
- Work Ethic
- Analytical/Problem Solving Skills
- Take control over your decisions. Don't let others or fate make them for you.
- Explore occupations for yourself. Don't accept stereotypes about occupations. Utilize internships, part-time or summer jobs to "try out" occupations.
- Look at all of your options. You can't make sound decisions unless you have complete and relevant information from all available resources.
- Too many people go through college and first jobs without really knowing their own attitudes and values, so take time to find out about yourself, what you are good at and what you enjoy.
- Don't stay in a job that you really don't like. Your work-life is just as important as your leisure time.
- Set realistic goals and expectations (salary, level of responsibility, etc.) for your first employment opportunity
- Always remember: you are in control of your own life, and you have the ability to make changes if you really want to.