« Question 9 |
Are we living up to the promises made in our admissions materials for first year students? If not, where are we under delivering?
Posted by David Swenson on December 21, 2007 5:52 PM | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/58776
I am not sure what explicit promises are made in our admissions materials regarding career help for first year students. However, my conversations with students, parents, and other constituents lead me to believe that they have some expectations about the delivery of quality and timely career services from a â€śquality liberal arts college.â€? As a result, I believe that UMM seriously lacks in the number, quality, and timeliness of these services, especially for first- and second-year students and transfer students.
Many students entering college today do not come with carefully thought out academic and career goals. Some students come to college without the benefit of high school career guidance to help them make informed decisions about majors and careers. Therefore, it is not surprising that students, especially first- and second-year students in traditional liberal arts majors, are likely to change their major and think they have to leave UMM to meet their educational goals. Many â€śundecidedâ€? or â€śprovisionally decidedâ€? students struggle with making an academic/career choice. The anxiety that results from this dissonance may force them to transfer to a college with a more â€śvocationalâ€? major because they do not understand the relationship between a liberal arts education and careers. They simply may not be aware that there are other ways to meet their career interests through a liberal arts education and staying at UMM. As an institution, we do not do enough to help first- and second-year students make this â€śbeyond UMMâ€? connection.
Since regular academic advisers â€“ our teaching faculty â€“ are busy teaching, conducting research, and participating in outreach activities, they often need to rely on others â€“ usually professional career services staff - to help students with self-assessment; making career/educational decisions; guiding students through career exploration resources; assisting students to develop internships, part-time and summer jobs, and other experiences; and teaching students about graduate school and job-search techniques. Due to limited Career Center funding/staffing and a traditional separation of academic and student support services at UMM, it has been difficult, at best, to meet the educational/career development needs of students, especially first- and second-year students. Recent benchmarking data on career services indicates that UMM lags way behind other institutions we like to compare ourselves to in terms of professional staff, number of support/clerical workers, budget, and facility, that adversely effects programming for students.
UMM students, especially first- and second-year students, are not getting the same level of professional career assistance as students at comparable Minnesota colleges. UMM lags way behind other comparable colleges in career dollars spent per student, number of individual appointments and workshops, use of career assessments, on-campus interviews, among other services. Since first- and second-year students usually are the most undecided/uncommitted, timely career services- undecided workshops/services, career/educational assessment, individual career counseling, career planning workshops, alumni networking, internship/experiential information, etc. - are not available to the majority of those who most need the help.
Deliberate early career interventions are important to helping students persist in college and eventually graduate. This point is consistent with the position of Noel-Levitz, an admissions and retention-consulting organization. According to Noel-Levitz, â€śintrusive, pro-active strategies must be used to reach freshmen before the students have an opportunity to experience feelings of failure, disappointment, and confusion.â€? Noel-Levitz also states, that â€śsuccessful retention practices provide students with the tools they need to survive â€“ before they know they need them.â€? UMM needs to develop and provide more quality and timely educational/career planning services for first- and second-year students and, at the same time, work to systematically integrate them into the academic fabric of the college.
In the last few years, all of the Minnesota State Universities have added professional career services staff, many specifically assigned to develop career services aimed at first- and second-year students with the sole purpose of increasing retention. All of the public and private institutions who have added additional staff are doing more in-depth programming that supports their academic mission and have developed specific services for each major and student group. The Task Force on Undergraduate Reform for Student Support (2005) at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has made the recommendation to â€śinvest in and strengthen academic and career advising services across the campusâ€? and to â€śdevelop campus-wide goals, communications plans, standards and expectations for professional, academic, and career advising and services.â€? There is a national trend to add professional career services staff to assist the academic program by creating and systematically delivering career/academic services specifically for first- and second-year students.
In order to help first- and second-year students and transfer students, UMM needs to provide more programming and staff consistent with national and regional trends in order to:
â€˘ Expand internship and experiential educational opportunities.
â€˘ Conduct â€śclassâ€? meetings/programs for each year (Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors â€“ e.g. Senior Year Experience).
â€˘ Increase individual career counseling and advising sessions for more students, especially first-year students.
â€˘ Increase paper and Web-based career interest inventories and self-assessment activity for educational and career planning that could be incorporated into summer registration, orientation, first-year seminar course, and individual career counseling sessions.
â€˘ Develop more structured, intentional career interventions for multi-cultural students and special groups
(GLBT, non-traditional aged, international, etc.).
â€˘ Integrate at least one career class presentation delivered by professional Career Center staff in each of the introductory courses for each of the majors on campus.
â€˘ Develop and regularly teach a credited career planning course (with perhaps multiple sections)
available to all students, but with a focus on first- and second-year students.
â€˘ Develop corporate/non-profit partner programs for students and faculty that would involve field trips, campus
visits, and research, internship and service learning opportunities.
â€˘ Develop and continually promote an integrated â€śacademic, career, and volunteer planning systemâ€? introduced at orientation or first-year seminar and used throughout the collegiate experience.
â€˘ Integrate career programming in each first-year seminar course.
â€˘ Develop and deliver career programs in residence halls, especially those populated by first-year students.
â€˘ Develop, promote, and maintain alumni career networking, e-mentoring, and shadowing programs and integrate into first- and second-year-student programming.
â€˘ Develop career components that could be integrated into various â€śparents programs.â€?
â€˘ Provide more in-depth career assistance for all students, but especially first- and second-year students.
â€˘ Create new and additional partnerships with professional associations, K-12 schools, employers that
support internships, teaching, and the educational/career needs for all students.
â€˘ Develop and deliver etiquette programs for all students.
â€˘ Create and maintain a first/second year student academic/career Web site.
â€˘ Create and manage educational career Web sites for certain professions and alternative careers
for UMM majors (e.g., science and pre-health science).
â€˘ Reintroduce and manage a Peer Career Assistant (PCA) Program that involves first & second year students.
â€˘ Develop a â€śMajors and Interestsâ€? Education/Career Fair targeted at first- and second-year students.
Most, if not all, of the above initiatives are typical programs and services offered by other colleges that UMM does NOT offer because of lack of staff/funding and the perceptions of faculty and administration about the (in)appropriateness of career programming at a traditional liberal arts college. The historical separation of UMM â€śacademic affairsâ€? and â€śstudent affairsâ€? has lead to a turf protection stance by administrators (and some faculty), which has limited support for career services and, ultimately, has effected the delivery of services to students, alumni, faculty, and other constituents. UMM students deserve better!
UMM needs to offer a comprehensive career services program consistent with those found in top national liberal arts colleges (and other public colleges/universities in Minnesota), in order to help with recruitment and retention issues, and to provide a well-rounded, quality undergraduate liberal arts experience. UMM needs to assist students, especially first- and second-year students, and faculty advisors to help students see the connection between their liberal arts education and â€ślife after UMM.â€? UMM needs to develop more intentionally targeted career programs and services that will help create realistic goals for students -especially first- and second-year students - to help them persist to graduation, perhaps attend graduate/professional school, or find personally satisfying employment.
Gary Donovan |
January 15, 2008 5:39 PM
Morris has exceeded my expectations! I have received all the help that I have needed and have felt safe.
From the quality and friendly professors, to the opportunities on campus, Morris has provided a fulfilling, interesting and though-provoking first semester. I am very pleased and would like to thank all the staff and faculty who make Morris the terrific place that it is.
Brynn Stember |
January 4, 2008 9:31 PM
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