Frequently Asked Questions:
Why should I listen to you?
Why should I listen to you, Professor Roberts? I am in my second year of college and life is good. I make good grades, will probably graduate with honors and expect that I will be on my way to a successful career once I graduate.
Read the next question.
What’s wrong with me?
I am near the end of my last year in college, I will graduate with honors and have not yet seriously connected with a potential employer. I feel I have an excellent personality and say all the right things in job interviews. I have interviewed on campus and have attended every job fair I could but have not found a single company that is serious about hiring me. What’s wrong with me?
First of all, there is nothing wrong with you. Unfortunately, you are in the same boat with hundreds of thousands of other students. Most College Placement Offices have been relatively ineffective at finding professional jobs for graduating seniors. Most job fairs are for “show” and are often held when high school students and their parents are visiting college campuses. Most employers are not going to hire anybody from your college. All of their needs can be satisfied from top-tier universities such as Ivy League colleges. Many also obtain their future professional level employees from foreign universities whose professors have greater depth of real world knowledge and are judged by their students and managers accordingly. This poor “career” situation has existed on college campuses for over a decade (it’s not the economy). You need to keep yourself in play, something colleges have little experience with. Please read on.
How do I get experience?:
I find that organizations where I would like to work require experience before they will consider hiring me-I am still in college – how do I get the experience they want?
This is one point where most colleges fail miserably. If you’re not in a top tier or Ivy college, your college administrators and faculty just don’t know and really don’t care. Your college is composed of academics who have no real world experience. They have no contacts to help you find jobs and their programs to help get you experience are a joke. Most colleges spend little effort, time and money on trying to help get that experience you need either through internships or pre-professional employment.
This is going to hurt, but here is what you have to do: You must keep yourself in play. And there is only one way to do it. You are going to have to work for almost nothing in your field. And while you’re doing it you will need to network and make contacts. Here’s the hard part. You will have to sit by and watch graduates from top tier schools get the kind of job you were hoping to get. This is nothing your college could ever have prepared you for. Even if you do this successfully there is still no guarantee that you will finally get the career you wanted. It’s an outside shot. But one you have to take. If you have ever been to one of my lectures (generally free-if it works into my schedule-just contact me) I go into a little more detail as to the procedure and steps you will need to take to finally get entry into your field at the professional level you want.
But how do I pay back my student loans and start a career?
This is nuts. Professor Roberts, do you realize that I have student loans to pay back? Do you realize that I want to start a life for myself? How can I do this when I am earning a salary at a clerical level?
I understand and feel your pain. This may be the hardest time you will ever experience. You were sold a bill of goods by our higher education system. You took out students loans and for four years basked in the so-called college experience. If you have student loans you are in the worst possible position. And now it’s time to pay the piper.
You will need to focus on three things: Surviving these hard times, paying back your loans (note: student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy) and trying to get started in a career. You realize now that you actually could have started this by going to college part-time or first to a community college (a subject for another discussion). You’re going to have to work your ass off. Forget about making a life for yourself. This is survival.
You may have to get two jobs just to support yourself and pay your loans. Just remember to keep making contacts and working hard. It just might pay off. I often advise graduates who have less financial stress and little in student loan dollars to pay back, to keep themselves in play in the industry they desire. This can be done by volunteering your services to friends and associates in the industry who you can help by preparing textual presentations and performing other services for people who can help give you a referral. And don’t forget to keep copies (create a portfolio) of the work you do to show prospective employers.
I can guarantee you one thing: if you don’t work hard and if you don’t make contacts nothing will happen.
I am sorry but this is the way things are. Change will not occur anytime soon unless students begin to demand it.
What can we as students do now?
I understand what you’re saying, Professor Roberts. However, I am not in my last year yet. I have about two-and-a-half years left. Is there anything I can do?
There still may be time. In my book in the last chapter and the Afterword, I describe what students can do today to effect change. Rather than go through the detail I’ll just reiterate a few of the major points:
-You need to start discussions among students about career placement and what the college is or isn’t doing about it.
-Forget about dormitory issues, sports issues, food issues, etc. The next time your college administrators call a town meeting, discuss their lack of effective placement services.
-Demand that they effect new programs to help students. As an example demand that they add experienced professional corporate recruiters to their placement services. And that all students have one assigned to help them personally.
But will the college administration agree to do this?
What if they won’t accede to our demands?
They probably won’t. At this point you need to read the book. You will need to take some kind of action.
What if I can’t expect help from any other source?
If I can’t depend on the students as a group or the administration of the college to do what is best for the students, what can I do as an individual student?
I have always felt that a college degree can be beneficial even if you don’t get any benefit from it until later in your life. So my suggestion to all who find themselves already in the system is this:
You must concentrate on spending as little time and money on your four-year “college experience” (remember the result is more important than the experience) as possible. And you should graduate debt free. You should have as little student loan dollars to pay back as possible and no credit card debt. You must still go to an accredited college but you may want to think of transferring to a state school or, if you’re just starting your first year, attending a community college.
If you can’t do this then you may want to think of attending part-time. Get a clerical job in your field and get the credits as you can afford to. Some companies will pay some of the course credits for you. If you decide to go full-time then you may want to go to a school where you can attend during the summer and off-semester hours to enable you to graduate in three years. This will cut down on the interest you will owe if you have student loans.
A Final Word
Please don’t forget that for every day you attend college, for every day you have not paid interest on student loans, that interest (for most private and even some government loans) will be added to the principle of your debt. And it will grow and grow until in many cases, the interest added to your loan may even exceed the amount of the original principle.
No matter what you do just remember that almost all of the students graduating from non top-tier schools (99%+ of all colleges) are experiencing the same problems you are. You have done nothing wrong other than to believe the empty promises of a system so dependent on your tuition and fee-based dollars that they will say anything to get you to attend their school.
I HOPE I HAVE BEEN OF SOME HELP!
My name is Professor Roberts and just by the fact that you have reached this website, means that you have already heard about me and my mission to demand honest, full disclosure of college and universities. I have spent most of my career in the Financial Services sector. I have also spent seven years teaching at major Universities.
Your Placement Service Cannot Help You!
If you are a school newspaper editor or a member of the student body, you have people who are looking up to you in your leadership position. Please don’t think like all the other administrators in your college. Realize that there is nothing your professors and administrators can do for you. But you can help all the students in your school. I periodically do editorials for student newspapers. And I would be very willing to write such an article for your organization. (I also visit many campuses). Please let me help. You have nothing to lose.
I will specifically discuss various topics such as the following:
-The mission of the college: Are you sure that what you want is the same as what the college administrators want?
-Is your college placement services department really working for you?
-Are you getting the education you are paying for?
-Why is it so expensive and is it worth it?
-How do I know a college can give me a return on my money invested in these four years?
-I am a third year student, what can I do at this point?
We are planning on covering many such topics. As we construct the sight more topics important to the students will become available.
My experience is in the real world (as opposed to the “academic” experience of most of your full-time professors). I will share with you information that will hopefully allow you to, one day, obtain the job you are looking for in your chosen field. Most of your full-time professors and administrators do not know what to tell you to do. They have no experience in the real world. But you have to start preparing now! There is no time to lose.
If you wish to contact me please give me an email address or phone number I can reach you at by filling out our Contact Form.