Overwhelmed by all that goes into finding your best fit school? Your “best fit" will almost certainly not be your best friend's — each student has a different college experience, and things like finances, location and academics all play a role. So there's plenty to think about during your college search!
Having a detailed search now can save you time and stress when you're sending off those polished applications. With extra information about each school on your list, you'll gain even more confidence in your choices.
The overall experience you'll get in college is obviously important, but the goal is to set yourself up for success after college, too, right? So during your initial college search, consider how a school can set you up career-wise. After all, you don't want to feel underprepared on your graduation day when it's time to face post-college challenges.
Contacting a school's career center can give you an idea of what sort of services and opportunities are offered to students. Researching what's available to you — in addition to the coursework, student body and extracurriculars — can show you whether a school is prepared to give you what you need to succeed after you graduate. Here are a few examples of services you may find valuable.
Making post-college plans before you're even in college might seem like overkill. I get it! But hear me out: Instructors at your prospective schools will ideally be experts in your areas of interest. And learning from their experiences — both good and bad — can help you leave college with insight you can't get anywhere else! This can come in handy when it comes time to craft a winning resume.
Getting a handle on what works on a resume can easily change depending on your career interests:
- Where do you put your college science club?
- How do you leverage your volunteer experience?
- What can you do to specify a certain area of study within a larger major?
These are all questions a resume-writing workshop can answer for you! You'll often provide a sample of a current resume and receive feedback on how to best tailor that information to get a leg up on landing internships and entry-level jobs after college. Once you have a glowing resume, you can then turn your attention to other aspects of job hunting preparation.
Isn't the goal of a resume to get you an interview? See if your career center can help with that too! Quite often, it can. Practice interviews can be more general than a resume workshop, but the opportunity to go over common interview questions in a professional and realistic setting can yield great results when it comes time to do the real thing:
- What are your greatest professional strengths?
- What is your largest opportunity for improvement?
- What motivates you to work on a team or with others?
Even if you just cover the basics, becoming comfortable with those expected questions can help you feel more confident for job-specific questions later on, too.
These basic questions can also be great practice in learning how to make a positive first impression. This can set you up for success when it comes time to start networking.
Alumni Networking Events
Networking opportunities can be everything when you're trying to land a job post-graduation. And there's some research you can do to ensure a school's career center has what it needs to offer them to you. You're not the first student to walk through these college doors, and chances are good that at least a few past students have sought similar career paths to the ones that interest you. Use them as examples!
On our College Hopes & Worries survey, 42 percent of respondents said that a final college decision would come down to the school that offers the best program for their career interests. So researching how successful past students have been in landing the internships and entry-level jobs you want can be an indicator of how successful you'll be when you're in those shoes. Plus, with the chance to meet alumni face-to-face at networking events, you can make those connections — they've become more important than ever! And snagging a few while you're still in school can be a great advantage.
Of course, finding great career services should be added to the laundry list of things to consider during your college application process. And every student will have a different idea of how much weight each item holds. But adding a conversation with a school's career center to get some information can always be useful — sometimes a great career center can set a school apart from the others on your list!