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The Importance of Career Development – Part III

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By Christine Ricci, EVP, Business & Education Connected, LLC

Did you know that an estimated 20 to 50% of students enter college as “undecided” and an estimated 75% of students change their major at least once before graduation? Studies indicate a college student’s choice of major is influenced most by factors including family and peer influence, assumptions about introductory courses, potential job characteristics, and characteristics of the major. The studies ultimately imply that students are choosing college majors based on influence and assumption rather than on an understanding of their own personal talents, interests, and values. Decisions based on opinions rather than on self-reflection and factual knowledge often lead to uneducated, unrelated, and ineffective choices that result in disengagement, extended college stays, and significant increases in college expense. 

The majority of high school students today who pursue higher education are expected to pick schools, apply to and start degree programs without knowing where they ultimately want to end up. While it is difficult seeing children struggle to find their life’s path, it can also be costly. With college costs averaging $22,261 a year at public universities and $43,289 at private schools, indecisiveness can exhaust college savings accounts as students restart course sequences or transfer schools. Ultimately students risk extending their college days beyond the four years parents planned to finance. It is no wonder that student loan debt in the U.S. recently surpassed $1 trillion, more than all credit card debt combined.

The statistics are staggering, approximately 40 percent of students who start a four-year degree program still have not earned one after year six. The longer students take to graduate, the higher the costs and the more competitive admissions become with fewer the slots available for new students coming in. While there are a variety of good reasons for extending college education into five and six years (foreign study, internships, part-time work), changing majors is the one thing that drives up an education’s cost while potentially driving down a student’s self-esteem. It is also the easiest to avoid. Additional studies indicate that while students endeavor to declare a major, they do not aggressively prepare for their post-college careers through internships and other career related activities, one of several reasons that many struggle to find jobs following graduation.

The solution to this dilemma is helping students identify those areas of study best suited for them before they head off to college. Career development is an essential service for students which helps them to identify and appreciate their own unique talents, interests, values, and related career possibilities. Through a variety of assessments, personal consultations, research, and on-site job shadow experiences, students prepare a developmental career plan which includes post-secondary education requirements and options. “Successful careers …are developed when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values.” (Peter Drucker). Students who participate in career development are knowledgeable about the world of work, explore career options, and relate personal skills, aptitudes, and abilities to future career decisions which leads to well-informed post-secondary education planning and correct career choices.

Student loan debt is increasing each year and averaged $24,600 per student in 2012. Less than 60% of students graduate from college in the four years for which they planned. Investment in career development is a wise choice for all students resulting in decreases in post-secondary education costs and increases in student confidence and career success. Business and Education Connected, LLC, is a career development organization in South Western Pennsylvania providing career development and transition services to high school and college students. 

For more information regarding career development, please contact: Aafke Loney, MBA, President, Business and Education Connected - 412-4962389 or Christine Ricci at 412-303-9822


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