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The Value of College

College is expensive. Private college is even more. My undergraduate school is now charging approximately $50,000 per year, just for tuition. Assuming you’re paying of pocket, that’s two hundred thousand dollars for a four-year degree, not including room and board.

I love my college, but this is bananas. The idea that a student or parents are expected to come up with this much money for school is difficult to wrap the mind around.

The high cost of college makes you wonder what the money is for. College is more than a finishing school. It’s more than a place to learn about history. It will set the foundation for your future professional career.

To facilitate this career, many colleges offer a career resources center. But, they are typically opt-in. In other words, career resources isn’t a priority.

If finding a job is the ultimate goal, why doesn’t every college offer a mandatory class about just this topic? Along with history, math, and writing, why isn’t there a class in how to get a job? After all, we spend four years learning the skills we need to do the job. Why not have a course in how to get that job?

It seems simple. Universities could use leverage existing career resources staff, or they could find outside coaches or professionals. Fundamentals might include elevator pitch, resume writing, and professional networking.

If students knew how to get a job, they would be more likely to land one upon graduation. They very well might make more money, and in turn, the school would become more valuable. If your school already has a program like this, that’s excellent news. But, sadly, most of the students I speak to don’t have such a course.

If you are evaluating where you want to go to college (or graduate school), consider this. Most schools publish what’s called a post-graduation report. You can typically find it through a straight forward internet search such as “post-graduation report for Harvard University.” This report will typically share information, including: which industries graduates work in, which companies hire graduates, where graduates live geographically, and how much graduates make.

The how much graduates make portion is important. Graduates from certain colleges (or with certain degrees) make much more (or much less) than other graduates. This is real. Companies will very often pay a graduate from a pricey school more than one from another school. Or, they will pay graduates with science or computer backgrounds more than those with art or history backgrounds. This may seem intuitive, but the post-graduation report outlines it clearly.

The next question is – will this education have a good return on investment? Education is an investment. It’s an investment in future income. Fortunately, there are ROI calculators online that can help think through this process. At the end of the day, the college and major you select may be influenced by the ROI of the degree.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

145 | Millennial Job Seekers – Alissa Carpenter, Philadelphia, PA

Episode 145 is live! This week, we talk with Alissa Carpenter in Philadelphia, PA.

Alissa is the owner of Everything’s Not OK and That’s OK. She provides strengths based coaching and professional development training for individuals and teams, with a focus on Millennials.

On today’s episode, Alissa shares the biggest struggle young college graduates face. She also gives us tips on what to do if we have little work experience, what part of our high school education should be included on our resume, and whether or not you should consider going back to graduate school.

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

To learn more about Alissa, check out her website at http://notokthatsokcoach.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter at @notokthatsok, and you can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/notokthatsok/.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.

Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!

Advice to My Younger Self

In the past week, two interesting things have happened. First, I was asked the question, “What advice would you give your younger self?” Then, I attended my high school reunion. Walking through the old halls of my high school brought back memories of where it all started. Needless to say, both moments made me think about the past and what advice I would give a young person today.

First and foremost, focus on your strengths. Growing up, there’s often a large emphasis placed on being well rounded and equally good at everything. We spend so much time trying to be better at skills we struggle with. In reality, it’s the things that we’re good at that make us special. You will go much farther pouring your time into an area where you excel than stumbling around in something you are weak at. Worry less about your weaknesses and instead, celebrate your gifts.

Second, listen to your gut. Other people with good intentions will try to guide you along the way. They may be parents, teachers, or friends. Some of their advice may be helpful, but some may not. It’s your job to sort out the good from the bad. Do a gut check with yourself before you make big decisions. And remember, most people are best at giving advice for one specific area. Seek out mentors to help with specific decisions rather than all areas of your life. If you begin to head down a path that doesn’t feel right, take a step back and reassess. Similarly, if you’re on a path that you are sure about and are receiving negative feedback from those who may not be in a place to advise you, take your time before switching paths. When I made the decision to move from Oklahoma to upstate New York to study engineering, I received some negative feedback. But, I’m very glad I stayed focused on my mission because it was the best choices I could have made.

Last, your path may not be straight – and that’s okay. Today’s professionals will change their career path many times over the course of their working life. There’s a good chance you will change roles, industries, or fields more than once. Each change will take you closer and closer to your ultimate destination. Be prepared for this change. It’s not the same as failure. Don’t dwell too long if something isn’t working. Adjust your path and continue to move forward in a new direction. That’s where you will find your success.

One of the most important elements of finding your way is to stay informed – and to be prepared for change. It’s not always possible to predict what change will happen, but change itself is inevitable. Being nimble, aware of your strengths, and willing to listen to your intuition will take you far. This is the advice I’d give to the younger me. And, with the ever changing job market, it’s a good future lesson to remember too.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Finding Your First Job

You’ve made it through four years of college. Now what? Getting your first job after graduation can feel like a daunting task. We have such high hopes of finding the perfect career quickly and easily – until we hit a wall. Based on a recent piece by the Wall Street Journal, many college graduates can relate.

The National Association of Colleges and Employees reports that companies plan to hire 5% more young workers this year than last year. This sounds like a great forecast. It makes you wonder what’s going on that’s impacting new graduates.

It seems there’s a mismatch of what companies are looking for and what applicants have to offer. Approximately thirty percent of applications aren’t meeting the minimum requirements for entry level jobs. To compound the issue, some jobs require higher level minimum requirements than are really needed to perform the job. This means that companies aren’t able to find the candidates they want. And, young job seekers are left without jobs.

In addition, ninety percent of college seniors believed their interviewing skills were strong. This was a stark contrast to the perceptions of hiring managers.

What’s a young person to do? First, know that finding your first job can be tough, no matter what you studied. Decide that you’re going to commit to your job search in the same way you committed to college. It’s a process that takes hard work, time, and dedication.

But, don’t assume your college degree along is enough to land a job. Do everything you can to grow your skills and increase your work experience. Search for internships, paid or unpaid. Volunteer your services for nonprofits that will allow you to grow your marketable skills. Target opportunities that will help you to beef up your resume, not just your pocketbook.

If your college has a career center, this is a good time to get to know them better. Get help with your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Give your elevator pitch to anyone who will listen. Write out answers to common interview questions and review them. In other words, prepare and practice, practice, practice.

When you search for a new job, don’t rely on the internet to serve up your next opportunity. Betting that the company will call you after you apply online rarely works. Network as much as you can. If possible, contact the hiring manager directly to express your interest.

Last, but not least – take a little pressure of yourself. When you first take a new job, it can be tough to know if it’s a good job for one year or for your entire career. Only real work experience can help to give you this information. Don’t feel like you have to find the perfect job for your first try. Look for a good job that you find exciting and that you’ll be proud to put on your resume.

If you stick to these principles and treat job searching as a job, you’ll land yours faster.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.