I meet more and more students and parents who are stressed out about life after graduation. Some moms feel angst about the job prospects for their freshman son or daughter (even if graduation isn’t for three more years). It’s true, however, that one of the challenges in higher education is that they don’t always prepare students for the realities of the world that awaits them. I hear the phrase: “They don’t teach corporate at college” several times each year. If that’s true, it’s sad. Every student should receive a cautiously optimistic reality check before graduation. It could come from either the academic or student affairs side of the campus, but it should come.
I’m just sayin’…
According to a report released in April by InternMatch — a San Francisco-based website that lists internships and entry-level jobs — only 16.6% of college seniors this year have received a single full-time job offer. Ouch. Some new college grads still struggle to find work, while others accept jobs for which they are over-qualified. Unemployment for recent grads was still higher than the 9.6% rate for all Americans ages 20-29 last October, and the Department of Labor reports that 260,000 college graduates were stuck last year working at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. So what can we do as we seek to graduate healthy students?
Seven Messages Every Student Needs to Hear About Life After College
I believe we owe these great kids a set of honest messages about life, perhaps messages we needed at their age that were never shared with us. They don’t need to be negative or depressing, just filled with realistic information that enables them to prepare for a different life than what they’ve experienced so far in their first two decades. Here are some important messages I relay to students as I speak to them:
- Life is difficult.
My career is worth my energy, but success will likely take longer than I expect.
- Control is a myth.
I’m not in control of most things in life, but many are within my influence.
- It’s not about me.
Moving from childhood to adulthood means I play a role in a much bigger world.
- Things will change.
I’m not doomed to an identical fate tomorrow. Life expands as I grow.
- I gain when I seek to add to others.
I must focus on adding value, not on grabbing value at work. I will gain as I give.
- No one can make me happy.
I can’t expect a job, spouse or income to make me happy. “Happy” is a by-product.
- I must live with the end in mind.
I am most satisfied when I choose a meaningful purpose and live with it in mind.
I wish someone had relayed these messages to me upon graduation. Can you think of any others that should make this list?
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