Entering the workforce after college is scary, there is no denying that.
It’s the first taste of ‘real’ adulthood. Few college students likely feel fully prepared, both mentally and academically, to make that step.
A primary concern to The Equinox is students at Keene State are feeling like they are not being adequately prepared for life after college. A national survey shows that this is not unique to just KSC: only 40% of U.S. college students feel prepared to enter the workforce, according to the 2018 McGraw-Hill Education Future Workforce Survey.
At Keene State, The Equinox sees the workforce preparedness experience as three-fold: a combination of a student’s major, the faculty within that major, and the student’s initiative to seek out opportunities.
Even though every major at Keene State is different; each with their own set of faculty, courses and related extracurricular activities, all are created for students to enter the workforce equipped with the information they’ll need to succeed.
Since every major is different, students feeling prepared depends, at least in part, on the major and the opportunities within it.
Another part of our concern is also related to the role of faculty and staff. If a student does not enter college with a general idea of what they would like to study, it may be difficult to figure out unless there is regular outreach from faculty, such as department heads and advisors.
Many students rely on faculty members to help them succeed in their program, write recommendation letters and find internships and job opportunities. Because of undeclared students coming in and the delay in major-specific learning that general education courses pose, many students may not be able to truly connect with their department faculty until it is too late.
The Equinox, though, acknowledges that faculty cannot do it all, especially amidst the shifting size of the body of faculty and staff at KSC. This is another of the hidden, unanticipated spin-offs of cost cutting. It can be a lot to ask for faculty to teach all of the students in their program and help those students look and prepare for internships and jobs; and, meanwhile, new students continue to trickle in.
That being said, we recognize that seeking out internships and other relevant learning experiences is a two-way street, but too often, especially to newer students, those streets appear marked One Way.
There is the age-old saying that college is truly what you make of it.
Feeling prepared for the ‘real-world’ requires students to do more than just go to class. Faculty and advisors should certainly be there to support their students and help bridge connections, but it also rests on the student to hold themselves accountable and take initiative.
Coming in as a first-year student at Keene State, students are required to take general education courses, also known as the Integrative Studies Program (ISP). These classes are designed to give students a well-rounded educational experience, and also allow undeclared students to find what field of study they would like to pursue.
While these courses can be beneficial in these circumstances, it can feel like they are taken for credit purposes at times, not for learning purposes.
In their third year of college, students begin shifting away from ISPs and take more major-specific courses. In the experience of The Equinox’s upperclassmen, it is during this time that students find their niche.
Students should be showing initiative and accountability, but should also feel adequately supported by their faculty and advisors.
We suggest the college provide more opportunities for students to speak with professionals in their field of study. The college does hold job fairs, but more major-specific job fairs could be beneficial to students looking for a career in a specific field.
Students rely heavily on the college to assist them in their preparation for life after college. Promoting existing resources and providing more specialized resources has the potential to take away stress that students carry regarding their plans after graduation.
The question is, how much outreach is being done by Keene State to help them?