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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