How Much Do College Career Services Really Help Students?

Posted By Terri Williams on January 13, 2017 at 11:47 am
How Much Do College Career Services Really Help Students?

While it may be difficult to gauge all of the benefits of pursuing a college degree, being gainfully employed is one reliable indicator. Most colleges and universities have career services offices to help students navigate the job search process – and also help them decide on a course of study. But how effective are these services? Do they really make a difference?

A recent Gallup report explores the value of college career services. The extensive report is based on surveys of students who graduated from 2010 to 2016. Below are selected excerpts:

Have you visited the career services office at least once?

Yes 61%
No 32%
Don’t know/Cannot recall 7%


How helpful was the career services office to you?

Very helpful 17%
Helpful 26%
Somewhat helpful 37%
Not at all helpful 17%
Don’t know/Cannot recall 3%


Graduates who visited the career services office at least once and thought the interactions were very beneficial are 5.8 times more likely to believe their school did a good job of preparing them for life after college.

Visited Helpfulness
I believe my school is passionate about the long-term success of its students 35% 24% 61% 10%
I believe my school prepared me well for life outside of college (strongly agree) 34% 26% 58% 19%
I believe the education from my school was worth the cost 49% 49% 72% 24%
Had a good job waiting for them after graduation 31% 34% 49% 15%


The report also found that students who visit the career services office are more likely to be employed on a full-time basis, and more likely to find their job fulfilling.

Don’t wait until senior year

Bentley University’s Career Services department is ranked #1 by the Princeton Review, so GoodCall® wanted to find out what they’re doing differently. Susan Brennan, associate VP of Bentley’s career services, tells GoodCall® that it’s never too early for students to start thinking about their careers. In fact, she believes that orientation is a good time for schools to encourage students to start preparing.

“Too often, students don’t think about visiting their school’s Career Services department until second semester senior year, a time when many students begin to embark on their job search,” Brennan says. But Bentley takes a different approach. “Beginning freshman year and throughout their four years, students take career preparedness classes and meet regularly with our career services team and by senior year, they are confident in their career choices, and well prepared to ace tough interview questions and land their first job.”

The importance of career services

Some students don’t realize how much the Career Services office can help them. Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed, director of the Office for Student Success at Touro College, tells GoodCall®, “Job seekers often pay hundreds of dollars for job search assistance that is provided without cost to students at their Career Services office.

However, students can also receive guidance when weighing the pros and cons of choosing a particular college major. “When you think about it, deciding on a career is a major decision for students and the answers are not always obvious,” Shapiro explains. “Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of students who had difficulty deciding which career to pursue, or felt uncomfortable with the decision they had already made.”

Many students may not understand the importance of evaluating a variety of factors – such as interests, talents, abilities, job growth rates, wages – before selecting a major. “From offering aptitude tests to providing a reality check and impartial advice to students, Career Services can helps alleviate fears and assist students in making the right career choices,” Shapiro says.

In addition, these offices provide the type of assistance in crafting resumes and cover letters that can help students land a job. “I have frequently heard HR directors at major companies mention that they can always tell when a student has gone to Career Services for resume assistance, and that it makes a huge difference in their hiring decisions,” according to Shapiro.

Of course, students need more than classroom knowledge and career services help to land a good job. There are resumes and cover letters to be written, and embarrassing social media posts to be deleted. An applicant’s online presence can enhance or ruin the chances of getting a job. For some students, there are helicopter parents who need to be gently grounded, since helicopter parents can sabotage a college grad’s chances of being hired.

The inside track

One reason Career Services offices are so helpful is because they know what employers are looking for in job candidates. Shapiro says that most Career Services offices are usually affiliated with the National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE. The organization routinely publishes such research as the most important job candidate skills and projected hiring trends.

“NACE facilitates dialogue and cooperation between Career Services and the human resources professionals responsible for hiring students,” Shapiro explains. “Career Services professionals have strong connections with the “right” people at top companies, and practical insight into how those companies make their hiring decisions.”

And since Career Services offices have this inside track, students can gain a competitive advantage by taking advantage of this knowledge base. Career Services can provide practical advice on the application process, resumes, interviewing, professional persona, social media and all of the other factors that get students hired,” Shapiro concludes.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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