Preparing for College

The Ins and Outs of College

If you have been paying attention to the news over the past decade, you may have made note of reports about wars. At some point during those stories, there may have also been video of various news conferences with generals and other high-ranking military personnel. Eventually, you would have heard the term “exit strategy.” Thus the point of what we’ll discuss today.

For those of you parents who either have a child in college currently or will have one enrolled this fall or next, it would serve you well to think about their exit strategy. In many cases these days, making the transition into college is significantly easier than crossing the bridge out of college into the so-called real world of jobs, debt, and career development.

Unfortunately, many parents think that once the college admissions process battle is over, things will pretty much be on cruise control straight through graduation and into the post-grad world. That’s not what usually happens, though. According to Jane Horowitz of, “A full 71% of parents were involved or highly involved in their child’s college admission process, with one-third paying for outside resources, including exam prep courses, tutoring, essay coaches and application consultants, according to interviews and a national survey of 250 parents of college students and recent graduates.” Well, we all should know about helicopter parents.


But what should parents be doing to assist their child when it comes time to leave college and begin a life outside of those ivy covered ivory towers?

Horowitz goes on to note that “Parents need to worry as much about getting their children out of college as getting in.” A new study authorized by More Than a Resume shows that soon-to-be college grads and their parents are discovering the hard way that many have focused too much on getting into the right college and not enough on transitioning into the professional workplace.

More Than A Resume authorized this national survey by Bauman Research & Consulting in collaboration with Emotional Reason, an insights-to-strategy consultancy. More Than A Resume principal Jane Horowitz is a career-launch coach working with college students to make college-to-career transition easier and landing that first professional job happen faster. Here are a few of the survey’s findings:

A vast majority, or 95%, of parents agree that looking for a first job is very different today than when they joined the professional workforce:

– 73% say they do not have the right knowledge and contacts to help their child.

– 68% don’t know how to help.

– 58% say they do not have a trusted network for support and help in this process.

College career centers aren’t stepping up either. More than half, 54%, of parents somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement: “My child’s college has excellent career service resources.” At 64%, the disappointment is even higher among parents involved with their child’s job search. In fact, parents in interviews related such experiences as:

– “My kid realized he has to go it alone. They don’t know what to do with a history major.”

– “The career services center told him (a college senior) it was too early.”

– “They told him since 80% of our students go on to graduate school, it’s not our focus.”

In this national survey, almost all —95% of parents—agree that looking for a first job is very different today.

– Almost 73% admit they do not have the right knowledge and contacts to help their child.

– 68% wonder what more they can do to help.

– Over half, 58%, say they do not have a trusted network for support and help when they need it most.

Parents rely on getting into the “right” school. Most are counting on the university to help.

– 72% believe their child’s college “brand” will give the necessary competitive edge in the job market.

Parent assumptions about how long it takes to land a first professional job do not align with reality.

– Almost 71% of parents believe their child will land their first professional job out of college in 5 months or fewer.

– 23% say their child will have a job at graduation.

– 40% of parents who have a child past graduation say it took their child 6 months or more and 22% say it took over a year.

Parents say they have a different job search timetable than their children.

– 40% of parents say they started thinking about their child’s career search during the child’s junior year.

– 31% of parents estimate their child won’t begin thinking about a job search until senior year.

– 30% say their child won’t start until after graduation day.

Parents were active participants with their kids to get into the “right” school, but less than half are involved with a first job search.

– 71% of parents were involved or highly involved in their child’s college admission process.

– One third paid for outside resources to ensure their child got into the desired school, including exam prep courses, tutoring, essay coaches, application consultants, books and publications.

– Another third took advantage of free high school programs and counselors or online services.

– But when looking for that first crucial job, less than half (only 40%) of parents are involved; very few (just 1%) pay for any kind of outside help for their child.


The one finding that jumps off the page for me is that 30% of parents surveyed say that their child won’t start searching for a job until aftergraduation day! I think another way of saying this is: “30% of parents surveyed will be shocked beyond belief that the job market is as tough as it is and wonder why their child hasn’t found a job for 18 months, especially since s/he started looking for work just three weeks after graduation.” Duh.

So, a word to the wise, parents. There is help available if you don’t know how to help your child make the transition from college to the workplace. Heed these survey results and don’t be among that optimistic but mislead group that says, “I’m not concerned. Things have a way of working out for the best.” Sometimes they don’t.


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.