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Why College Students Should Seek Out Employers For Career Advice

It turns out the best career advice for college students may not come from high school or college counselors, print or even a growing array of Internet sources. No, the best advice on critical matters, such as picking a major or field of study, comes from employers, coworkers and people with experience in the field.

Despite the substantial industry and resources built around formal college advising, these traditional sources are the lowest rated by college students and graduates in terms of their helpfulness. But while the highest rated advice comes from informal work-based sources, including employers, these channels of advice are – unfortunately the least utilized of all.

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These counterintuitive findings were just released from the Gallup-Strada Education Consumer Pulse a daily poll of U.S. adults about their education experiences and aspirations. Among 22,087 U.S. adults who have some form of post-secondary education, Gallup and Strada asked, “From what resources or people did you get your advice about the major or field you were going to study during your [degree program]?” and then, “How helpful was the advice you received from each source?”

Answers were categorized into four sources of advice, including informal social network, like family and friends; formal sources, like counselors; informal school-based sources, like teachers or coaches; and informal work-based channels, including employers, coworkers or individuals with experience in the field.

The most commonly cited sources of advice were from a student’s informal social network (55%) and formal sources (44%), while the least-often cited was informal work-based (20%). In terms of helpfulness, though, the two most-utilized sources were rated the least helpful, and the least utilized was rated the most helpful. Sixty-four percent rated formal sources as “helpful” or “very helpful.” Informal social networks rated slightly higher at 72%. And the most helpful were informal work-based sources at 83% a substantial 19 percentage points higher than formal sources.

These findings suggest that it’s time to rethink just about everything about the college advising process. When the formal sources that are intentionally designed to be helpful are rated the least so by consumers, it’s time for these providers to do a more careful assessment of how they can improve.

To be fair, sources such as high school and college counselors are greatly overburdened, underfunded, and their roles can vary widely. So high schools and colleges should seriously consider how they are supporting these functions. And regardless of how much they might be supported, it still won’t be enough to provide great advice to all prospective and current students.

More help is needed. And the country’s students desperately need more help from employers, in particular. The burden can’t be placed solely on schools, colleges, parents and families.

This situation affords a great opportunity to amplify the value and frequency of informal work-based advice through various forms of internships, co-ops, apprenticeships, job-shadowing and any other form of exposure to the world of work for students. If you have a job, consider how you can play a role in giving advice to students. If you’re an employer, make sure your organization has a direct relationship with the schools and colleges in your area. Consider it your new civic duty. Maximizing postsecondary education outcomes is one of the most important things we can do as a country.

Brandon Busteed is Executive Director for Education and Workforce Development at Gallup. Carol D’Amico is Executive Vice President of Strada Education Network and formerly the Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/schoolboard/2017/10/09/why-college-students-should-seek-out-employers-for-career-advice/