During the Christmas holidays, a favorite pastime among many American families has been to grill their university-going children about what their plans are after they have completed their college education.
For students who have to face an extremely competitive job market and potentially huge student loan bills, the situation can become excruciating.
With President Obama proposing a federal college-rating system that would measure income- and job-related outcomes, more universities and colleges are putting their career services in the center of the arena, and online degree programs are also part of this trend.
During the recent finals week at the University of Vermont, Michaela O’Flaherty, a sophomore student, dropped into the university’s brand new career hub looking for advice. Michaela, from Newton, has no idea what she wants to do when she graduates. However, she is certain of one thing: she does not want to end up as a statistic on the list of unemployed Americans.
It is something the vast majority of university students dread. They have heard horror stories about recent graduates who are finding it difficult to get a job and they want to make sure they get a decent return on the money they invested in their college education.
Administrators like Pamela Gardener, the career director at the University of Vermont, are responding to this need.
She said: “When a student comes here, they know what they need to do to earn a degree. They don’t know what they need to get a job.”
To help students become better equipped in this regard, the university has built a brand new career center at a very strategic location: right next to the stand selling grilled cheese sandwiches.
At a time when the cost of university education is soaring and family incomes are not keeping pace, Gardener has developed a four-year plan to help students build a successful career. This starts during their freshman year.
The University of Vermont is not the only one with such a program. Many universities and colleges providing online degrees and diplomas offer similar programs to help students better equip themselves for the job market.
A major benefit of an online degree is that students can learn while they earn. For employers, it means that the knowledge the student gains during his or her studies can be applied in the workplace immediately. For students, there is the benefit of earning a salary while getting a relatively affordable yet high-quality education.