What Do Employers Want From Your College Student? A Liberal Education

There are many opinions proposed, many surveys taken, much research done regarding what employers want and expect from college graduates.  The answers may vary over the years, and may vary depending on profession or field of study.  Some skills may be very specific and others more broad.

College students often do not consider the actual skills that employers want.  Students may be thinking in terms of all-college requirements, requirements in their major, and possibly a minor, and what they need to do to graduate.  They often miss the connections between what they are doing in college and what they will need to do once they graduate — especially regarding those courses outside of their major.

As a college parent, you may want to talk with your student about what he is learning.  Ask him about the skills he is gaining in his classes.  Ask him about internships and real world application of his learning. Help him explore connections between his learning and his goals.  Help him explore the meaning of a Liberal Education. The more that your student, and you, understand and consider the meaning of his college education, the more easily he will be able to apply his learning to his life.

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New Year’s Resolutions – What Makes a Good One?

Last year at this time we offered some New Year’s resolutions for college and high school parents and for their students.  We still think they are good resolutions, worth considering carefully if you are a college or high school parent.  Please take a few minutes to follow the links below and reread our suggestions.

New Year’s Resolutions for College Parents — and Their College Students

New Year’s Resolutions for High School Parents — and Their College Bound Students

In addition to the specific resolutions offered last year, this year we’d like to offer some suggestions to keep in mind as you and your student think about creating your own resolutions for the fresh start that the second semester of the year offers.  Give some thought to these characteristics of good resolutions as you consider what matters to you in the New Year.

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Talking to Your College Student About Grades

Obviously, grades are a big part of the college experience.  Students attend college for many reasons, but classroom experiences, and the grades that go along with those experiences, are an important measure of college outcomes.  Some students seem to care more than others about their grades, but all college students know that they matter.  Families, too, differ in how they view college grades.  Some parents are anxious to hear about every test or paper; others may not be interested in grades as long as they are passable.

Starting a conversation with your son or daughter about grades may be completely natural for some parents and more awkward for others.  But talking to your student about their grades is important.  Don’t take them for granted or assume that all is well if you don’t hear anything.  Remember that in college, grades go to the student rather than parents.  Your student has ultimate responsibility for their grades, but it is reasonable for you to ask to talk about them.  This is especially important if your college student is a new college student in their first or second semester.  Help your student consider what their grades may mean and what they can learn from them.

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When Your College Student Is Unhappy

There are good days and bad days for everyone, of course.  College students are no different.  We hope that our college students will have more good days than bad days.  But sometimes, your college student may hit a string of bad days, or may seem particularly unhappy with their college experience.  This is one of those times when, as parents, we may feel most helpless.  And the reality is that, in some ways, we are.  Your student may need to work through the situation on their own.  But you can be there, providing that all-important constant support, and perhaps also a bit of guidance.

Once you’ve determined that your student’s unhappiness is just that, and not something more serious that needs intervention or counseling, you can begin to help your student examine and think about the sources of their unhappiness with the college experience.  As a starter, it may help if your student understands that it is very normal to feel a low point a few weeks into the semester.  The novelty of a new semester is over, the reality of midterms, papers, and expectations hits. The glow of new friendships may also be wearing off.   It feels as though things might be better almost anywhere else.

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How You Can’t Help Your College Student Stay in School

Students work very hard to get into college.  Students (and their parents) spend years, and countless hours, making just the right list of potential colleges, visiting school after school, studying for SAT or ACT exams, writing college essays, filling out applications, interviewing, and waiting for that all important letter.  Students agonize over the decision to find the place where they feel comfortable, attend Orientations, contact roommates, shop and fill their dorm rooms with all of the necessities.  Why then, do almost 45% of those students who began with so much hope and so many plans, leave college or transfer schools before they complete their degree?

There are hundreds of reasons why students leave the school where they began their college education.  Some students transfer to another school (often losing credits along the way), some dropout entirely, some stopout and return later, and some slowdown and take longer to finish their degree — often as a part-time student.  Because, as parents, we are often used to being responsible for the direction our student takes, we may feel responsible when our student tells us that he wants to leave school.

It is important that college parents understand that there are some factors leading to college success that we can control and help with, and there are factors over which no one has control, or the student alone has control.  It is important to separate the two categories.  In this post, we’d like to take a look at some of the factors that parents can control (a very short list), and some of the major factors that parents cannot control (a much longer list).  We hope that this will help parents understand how varied the reasons for leaving school may be, and also help parents discuss reasons with their college student and help support the college student who may be struggling to succeed.

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Holiday Gifts for College Students: Some Suggestions

Last holiday season we made some recommendations for some gift book suggestions for college students — or about to be college students.  Some of these books will help them navigate into, through, and beyond college.  We still think that they are good suggestions for holiday gifts for your college student.  Some of these books are just for fun, and some provide plenty of helpful hints for surviving college.  They cover everything from general advice to cooking, money management and career advice.  Check out our Recommended List of Gift Books and find something for your student.

This year, in addition to our book recommendations, we’d like to suggest a few other possible gift ideas for about-to-be college students, current college students, or almost-graduate college students.  Of course, you know your student best, and you know what may or may not interest him, but here are a few ideas to stimulate your imagination.

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Colleges Are Working to Keep Your Student Enrolled

Retention is not a new topic, but it is an important topic for colleges.  Your student’s college wants him to stay enrolled. It is good for your student, and obviously, it is good for the college.  Many students transfer to a different college — often after a semester, a year, or two years.  Roughly 55% of students who start college finish school in six years at the same school.  There are hundreds of reasons why a student may transfer, some of which are better than others.

If your student talks about transferring, it is important that you help her think about her reasons.  Talk to her about whether things will be different in a different place, or whether she might make some changes in her approach in her current school. Many students consider a transfer at some point during their first or second year, but many choose to remain where they are.   As you and your student think about the transfer question, keep in mind that most colleges are working hard to help your student succeed and find satisfaction.  Your student chose this college initially, and the college selected your student.  The college wants this to work.  Your student might think about whether she is taking advantage of all of the opportunities provided.

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Book Review: College Survival Tips for Parents

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve created lists of recommended reading.  Check out our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

This review looks at College Survival Tips for Parents by Ceil Hall.  The book is a companion piece for the author’s book, College Survival Tips, which is geared to students.  The subtitle for this book is Fostering Growth and Independence in Your Kids.

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Reasons Why Your College Student May Need to Come Home for a Weekend

There are many important reasons why you should encourage your student to stay on campus on the weekends and not come home every weekend.  Research indicates that those students who are engaged and involved on campus not only do better in school, but also experience higher satisfaction with the college experience.  It is important to help your student understand why she should not return home most weekends if that is an option.

However, if your student attends school at a distance that makes coming home for a weekend a possibility, there are some reasons why an occasional visit home for a weekend may make sense.

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How Does Your College Student Feel About Their First Job?

Of course, the best answer to the question of how your college student feels about his first job is to ask him.  Every student is different.  Every student has different goals and ambitions, different strategies, different needs.  Hopefully, as your student has maneuvered his way through his college career, you’ve had opportunities to talk about his dreams and ambitions, and about the realities he will face when he hits the job market.

In spite of all of the individual differences, however, there are trends today in college graduates’ attitudes and approaches toward their first post-college job.  If you haven’t already had some conversations with your college student about his career thinking, some of the following information may be a good beginning point for discussion.  This information comes from the 2010 annual survey of college students conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).  Between February and April of 2010, NACE surveyed more than 12,000 graduating seniors at over 400 colleges throughout the United States.  Here are some of the things that they found.

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