Lessons In How To Pick a College for Career Success

Lessons In How To Pick a College for Career SuccessDeciding on a college or university to attend is a difficult choice because there are so many unknowns.  Will I like my professors, can I attend college, can I pay for college, can I gain admittance to the school, and more questions flood a prospective students mind when they are going to college.  I, like every other college student, was exactly the same.  I worried about finding a group of friends, finding professors that I enjoyed, and finding a field of study that I was passionate about.  However, in the long run of my career, there are other considerations that I should have worried about for college success.


Lesson #1 In How To Pick a College for Career Success – What Will Be My Total Debt Level.  I know roughly how much I would have to take out in loans every year.  What I failed to consider, was what my total level of debt would be and how long it would take me to pay it off over time.  For example, if I graduated with a total of $20,000 in debt and then paid that debt off at $500 / Month with a 5% interest rate, it would take me nearly 4 years to pay off.  $20,000 today is on the low end of student debt levels, only $5,000 on average every year, but the payoff of that debt is significant.  The lesson: Take out as little student debt as possible and pay it back as quickly as possible.


Lesson #2 In How To Pick a College for Career Success – How Many Students Graduate from My College.  The concerns of finding friends, professors that you like, and a field of study that challenges you vanishes nearly overnight.  Replaced with that concern is the question, "how likely is it that I will graduate?"  Schools have vastly different rates of graduation.  Some schools have a greater than 90% while others can be in the low 60%.    Looking at college graduation rates as a way to decide which college or university to attend did not even occur to me, but it must be a significant part of your academic decision.  One of the primary ways that college students get into significant financial trouble is when they have college debt and no college degree.  Selecting a school with a high graduation rate represents a school that is interested in your long term success.


Lesson #3 In How To Pick a College for Career Success – Create a Network of College Alumni.  Another great resource that I did not use when I graduated was the college’s alumni office as a way to make professional and potential employer contacts.  Every major college and university has a well-run, diverse, and professional alumni organization that keeps track of and updates alumni on the activities at their alma matter.  Students can research, access, and connect with alumni that have decades of professional experience, a willingness to help current students, and many have professional contacts that can lead to hiring.  This great resource takes some time, some organization, but it is the single best professional activity that you can do is to network and learn from the alumni at your college.


Lesson #4 In How To Pick a College for Career Success – Stay Away From Activities That Do Not Lead To Graduation.  One of the greatest benefits and challenges for incoming college students are the sense of physical, intellectual, and social freedom they experience in college.  This sense of freedom allows them to create new friends, have new experiences, and learn about fields and people they were never exposed to before.  This same sense of freedom can lead others astray.  Too much freedom can lead to over spending, missing classes, performing poorly on assignments, taking too few classes to graduate, plagiarism cheating, drinking, and the use of illegal substances.  College is having fun, connecting to people who will be friends for life, and discovering who you truly want to be.  These discoveries lead to graduation, but negative choices can have outsized consequences at college.  Stay focused, and stay to graduation.


College success is more than picking the right college or university.  Pick a college based on the career success it will deliver.  Keep debt at the lowest level, network with alumni for jobs, ensure that you graduate, and stay away from activities that reduce your chance of graduation.


We want to hear your advice. Share you insights below.


About the blogger:

Chad is the author of two books: (1) Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and (2) Battlefield to Business Success. Chad’s brand message is that organizations & individuals need to translate and apply military skills to business because they immediately produce results and are cost effective. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab.  Chad is an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in over 110 different articles in over 85 separate publications including The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.


238665 - 0117