When I worked in college admissions, not only was I counseling students and sitting on the admission committee, but a portion of my job was sales and recruiting as well. That’s right, while the ‘sales’ part was definitely non-traditional and not something ever stressed by the institution, I needed to convince families to spend more than $100,000 on an experience. I could offer no guarantees of a job, or of future success.
It was with interest, then that I read the Wall Street Journal article this week about job placement and college graduates. After interviewing recruiters from a number of companies, the Journal found that state universities often came out on top, besting universities whose graduates might have higher test scores and a more prestigious label on their resume.
Should this article impact your college search? It goes without saying that for many students, one of the goals of a college education is to find a meaningful, and paying job in your field upon graduation. For this reason, the survey touched upon majors that give students discrete skill sets upon college graduation — accounting, engineering, and computer science. There are excellent programs in these areas at a number of universities throughout the country. If you pursue such a major, it is often easier to articulate your career goals, and to match your resume with specific companies and job positions.
For a liberal arts graduate, the job market can be a different story. It’s not that liberal arts graduates (which many graduates of small colleges and highly selective colleges are) lack in skills, but they bring to the table skills that are less quantifiable: the ability to think critically and creatively, to communicate well, and to argue a point. If anyone has ever asked you, “What are you going to do with an English/anthropology/political science/women’s studies major,” you know that there are many open options, and fewer prescribed paths.
While it is always important to think about your future, it is key to think of college as an experience in itself, and not simply a stepping stone to a specific job or graduate program. Students who make the most of their college years, by taking courses of interest to them, pursuing research with faculty members, undertaking real world internships, and yes, visiting the career center are the ones most likely to be at the top of a recruiters wish list.