There has been a tremendous buzz in the media lately about unemployment, the lack of skills and how universities aren’t preparing their graduates for the world of work. To be frank, I take it all with a grain of salt. While there is no doubt that unemployment is a problem, I am still an old fashioned believer that students should pursue their passions and a university degree opens doors. In 2010, University Canada published an entire series of articles about the value of a university degree (http://www.univcan.ca/media-room/publications/the-value-of-a-university-degree/). On average over their lifetime, university graduates earn $1.3 million more than high school graduates and $1 million more than community college graduates. The National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_tba.asp) publishes rates of employment by educational level and the university graduates and again university graduates are well ahead of other educational paths. Similar results are found by the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm).
The issue for the vast majority of students starting university is that they aren’t yet ready to choose a specific career path and that’s okay. University is a place where students can explore their passions. For years, I took annual road trips to universities to chat with my former high school students. A key question I often asked was “What are you studying now?” Inevitably, the vast majority would tell me about a fascinating course or professor they experienced which changed their path. I am pleased to say that virtually all of them are highly successful and employed. You see, whatever they studied, they learned valuable transferable skills which have opened doors for them. Continue reading → *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
While many students would hate to admit it, their parents often play a key role in their post-secondary decision-making. They often finance the education, may have expectations based on their own experiences, or simply be there to support their child during a stressful decision-making process. After all, choosing a university is often the first major decision which has a long term impact on her or his life’s journey. When I counsel students making their decisions, I try to ensure that the parents are included in the process in a supportive role. In order to do so, I spend a great deal of time dispelling myths, helping them to understand current post-secondary realities and educating them about where they might find reliable information regarding their child’s choices. I do find much of the conversation is reminding parents that all they read or hear in the media is not factual nor reliable. I recently heard a TV financial celebrity talking on a highly respected talk show state a number of “facts” about university admissions which were so far off the mark, I cringed. Part of the problem is that much of the other advice he gave was valid. How does a parent discover what is valid and what is not? Another pet peeve of mine is the annual university rankings which are published by popular media magazines and newspapers. These are often based on criteria which have no influence of the individual student’s experience. How does one combat this? I have found that my most successful strategy is to educate the parents about resources which do provide reliable and valid information which is useful in supporting their child’s decision. Some like the University Canada (www.universitystudy.ca), the Common University Data from the Council of Ontario Universities (http://cou.on.ca/numbers/cudo) and eInfo (http://electronicinfo.ca) websites I have mentioned in earlier blogs. I recently read an article reviewing Major Maps, a new resource from Queen’s University Career Services (careers.queensu.ca/students/wondering-about-career-options/major-maps-2015). This is a truly valuable resource helping students (and especially parents) to understand the possible directions a student might take when completing a degree which is not specifically career focused. The maps offer more than a simple list of potential career paths, they also offer suggestions about how a student might get involved beyond the classroom to better prepare for the job market upon graduation. Contrary to the media, there continue to be remarkable opportunities for graduates in all university disciplines. Parents, who are worried about the employment opportunities upon graduation, need to see this type of resource so they can support the son or daughter who has a fascination in an area where career opportunities are not quite as obvious.
For a list of many of the web resources I like to use, visit my website at www.PeirceEducational.com/Links.html. *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
I am preparing to present at the annual conference for the New England Association of College Admission Counseling (NEACAC) in early June to give a presentation on Canadian universities for guidance counsellors from the New England area. As a long time counsellor specializing in university decision-making, I head south every year to hear the latest changes to the admissions processes for students applying to US universities. I believe Canadian students have a wealth of post-secondary educational opportunities in Canada, the US and around the world so I try to stay abreast of developments in the world of university admissions. I have no agenda for where students should apply but try to ensure they are informed with relevant information about whatever university options they might have, be it in Canada, the US, the UK or other areas of the world. I also feel it is important to share information regarding Canadian universities with our UScounterparts, who are painfully unaware of what Canada has to offer.
Continue reading → *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA