How Your Approach to College Can Impact Your Future Career

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  • Current public school curriculums are designed with one goal in mind — preparing you for college.

    One thing these classes don’t teach you is how to approach college and how it might impact your future career.

    How can you make the most of your education? How can you use your years there to your advantage when preparing for future jobs? Here are some things to keep in mind.

    A Familiar Lament

    High schools tend to put a lot of emphasis on preparing for college, but these higher education courses aren’t providing students with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce. When they enrolled in school between 2000 and 2009, 53% of incoming freshmen thought that they were going to get the skills they needed to secure a better job after they graduated.

    Only 34% of current students feel like their school is doing a good job of preparing them for their futures. On the other side of the coin, employers are even less confident in the ability of colleges to prepare students for life outside the educational sector.

    While 60% of hiring managers feel like college graduates have the skills to succeed in an entry-level position, only one-third of them feel like having a degree gives these employees the capabilities to be promoted. Colleges have repeatedly argued that they’re preparing students for a career rather than a first job, but the statistics seem to prove otherwise.

    Benefits of Attending College

    This isn’t to say that you should shelve your college plans entirely. A college degree can still be a useful tool, especially since so many hiring managers look for a degree on your resume. You just need to change your approach, instead of expecting the school to do all the work for you.

    Even if it doesn’t give you the skills to succeed, a college degree will help you improve your overall outlook. One study found that the average median income for someone with a bachelor’s degree is roughly $45,500. For those with just a high school degree, the average median income was $28,000 a year.

    Attending college opens doors, giving you better career opportunities than you would have without that degree under your belt. The requirements for many entry-level positions might look daunting, including years of experience and a degree, among other things. However, having a degree on your resume can help you get your foot in the door, whether the time and money spent taught you the things you needed to succeed or not.

    Changing Your Approach

    You can make your college experience work for you, but you need to change your approach. Stop looking at your college experience as a single path, a ladder that only goes one direction. Treating it like a one-lane road that only goes to one destination will leave you scrambling to keep up once you walk across that stage. Instead, look at it as the first step in a massive staircase that you build, step by step, until you reach the person you want to become.

    Start by figuring out what your goals are. Then pick a good school that offers the programs that you’ll need to reach those goals. In-state schools are inherently less expensive, since you won’t have to worry about out-of-state tuition charges, but depending on where you live, that might not be an option. Don’t let the cost of your dream school turn you away — there are always loans, grants and scholarships that can help you manage the costs.

    other valuable tips:

    Other than the required classes for your chosen major, you don’t have to stick to the recommended electives. Choose courses that will complement your major — like a business degree with a minor in app development or another programming language. Those skills are in high demand across the board. Don’t be static during your educational career. Learning how to be flexible and adapt will serve you well once you graduate and move out into the workforce.

    Future Impact

    How will changing your approach impact your future career? That depends entirely on you. Learning to adapt and figuring out how to make your college career work for you instead of the other way around can give you the tools to succeed in anything you put your mind to. Skip the recommended electives in favor of skills that will help you thrive in the workforce. This will vary depending on the focus of your degree, but there are plenty of options to choose from.

    Don’t rely on what you’ve learned about college during your high school experience. You aren’t limited to what these schools want you to become. With a bit of research and flexibility, you can turn your college experience into something that will truly prepare you for whatever career you’re interested in.

    Image Credit: future career by Pixabay

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