Phi Beta Cons

Colleges Should Do Much Better in Advising Their Students

Colleges and universities go to great lengths to attract and enroll students, but once they’ve got ‘em, the schools often fail to much to help them get on the best academic path for a career after college. So argues Vic Brown, who has had plenty of experience in both business and the academic world in today’s Pope Center piece.

Brown laments that students in their senior year often come to him, plaintively asking if he knows “of any jobs out there.” Pretty late in the game to be thinking about that. Brown sees that problem as a shared failure involving the student, the faculty, and the administration. Yes, schools go through all the motions, with faculty advisors and career services departments but, he argues, they usually miss the big thing: “They do nothing to help a student make the fundamental choice of an appropriate career path.”

Schools can and should work much more closely with students throughout their years so they won’t face that senior year angst over employment. Brown suggests an approach that’s more engaged to assist students in making the best curricular choices and scoping out places where they might want to work. One problem he mentions is that the faculty will often lack expertise in business fields that interest students and the solution would be to tap the knowledge of retired business people who are willing to work with students.

“Colleges need to devote as many resources to ‘launching’ students as they do to attracting them in the first place,” Brown concludes. Given the increasingly competitive nature of higher education, it seems to me that the schools that do the best job of figuring out how to do that will gain a huge advantage.



George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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