Three surefire tactics for making career an integral part of the college journey
In the field of higher education, keeping students enrolled and reducing melt is critical to the long-term success of an institution. One of the best ways to help students stay engaged, stay in school and make it to graduation is to help them connect to a career path – the earlier, the better. As the school year begins, we would like to share three tactics to do just that.
Tactic #1: Get students thinking about their careers
Making the connection between college and career can and should be a process that starts on day one. Students can become frustrated, disinterested and/or tempted to drop out when they don’t see the link between their present (attending college classes) and their future (achieving career dreams or goals). But students who do understand the importance and relevance of school to their careers often become more motivated academically. And the sooner they identify and can start working toward their career goals, the better prepared they’ll be when it’s time to actually start that career.
Beyond improved interest in their coursework, students also benefit from an early understanding of how dollars spent now, on tuition, translate into future earnings. Whether students are enrolling or re-enrolling, they need to know that the investment they’re putting into your institution is going to lead to opportunity and success when they graduate.
Tactic #2: Tailor support for career-focused programs
A good way to forge and strengthen the student connection to a career path is to offer career-focused programs bolstered by the right kind of support. Student support for these career-focused programs should be designed to build the student’s engagement with the school while serving as a conduit to other institutional resources. Because it needs to work for all kinds of students – those in the military, those with families, student-athletes and students with jobs or internships – the support should be nimble and flexible. Face-to-face, 9-to-5 interactions with students will no longer work for every student. Instead, work toward meeting students where they’re at and use other means of interaction and communication: texts, emails, cell phones. Adding multichannel support creates more opportunity for connection and learning.
Tactic #3: Bring it back to the "why"
Even the most motivated student can experience a steep drop in incentive on his or her way to a career path. In situations like these, InsideTrack coaches like to connect students to their “why”– identifying or re-identifying their reasons for being in school, their purpose, their goal. The point of this is to move the student beyond the surface answers and into their core motivators.
For example, a student’s “why” is often not merely “to launch or advance my career” but, on a deeper and more personal level, “to provide for my family,” “to achieve financial stability,” “to set an example for my kids,” “to help take care of my parents,” etc. Tapping into their real motivation can go a long way in keeping a student fully engaged and on task.
Finding their “why” also gives students a better sense of ownership in the path they’re paving and the choices they’re making. Career advisors can further support this process by using coaching techniques to help students chart their own course when it comes to their career. By encouraging students to make their own decisions, they’re empowering students to be their own navigators, versus telling them what classes they should take or career path they should follow. This increases students’ connection to what they’re doing, which can help them keep on keeping on even during the tough times.
Advisors and coaches both play a critical role in supporting students, and the work they do with students should be seen as symbiotic. Learn more about these roles and how they can collaborate to create a road to student success.