Career course helps future grads choose wisely

Career PlanningMany University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students, like their counterparts across the nation, are asking themselves some weighty career questions these days: What do I want to do with my life? What can I do with my major?

That’s where the one-credit course “Career Planning” can come in handy. The class is designed to help students explore career and major options, and establish short- and long-term goals for career/life planning.

“What we try to do is help them understand all the things they need to consider when they’re looking at their future,” said instructor Steven Newton, a program coordinator for UW-Green Bay Career Services. “For a lot of students this is the first big decision they make.”

It’s important to emphasize that this is a real course. Students have formal assignments, take quizzes and write a final paper. And attendance is expected.

When the course was established about five years ago, there was some discussion about whether it should be for credit, said Career Services Director Linda Peacock-Landrum. At the time, it was decided that for this course to be successful, the students would need to make a tangible commitment.

Is it successful? Two sections are offered each semester, and they fill swiftly. And there’s always a waiting list.

Career Planning is designed for undecided freshmen and sophomores, but it isn’t unusual to have upper-class students or even the non-traditional students.

Many students only exposure to the variety of career opportunities has been through high school career days, Newton said. Unfortunately, that is often a narrow range of options.

“The class focuses on the front end of the career development process,” Newton said. “We’re not helping them with a job search.”

An important aspect of the course is self-assessment. Students need to assess their own values, interests, personality and skills as they relate to the world of work.

Peacock-Landrum notes there is data at the national level that shows that students who have a defined plan — including career and academic goals — stay enrolled and more often remain with a current institution. Most importantly, they succeed in college.

“Retention was not a specific goal of the class,” she added. “However, I do feel that students that benefit from the class and solidify goals are more likely to remain enrolled.”

Newton and Peacock-Landrum stress that this class isn’t necessarily going to help students navigate through college more swiftly. However, it gives students the tools to seriously and systematically consider their future career.

“Let’s face it, some students arrive at school with two or three options, while others aren’t certain they even want to be at college,” Newton said. “We’re providing them with the resources for their decision-making process.”

R. Terry Anderson

I teach English Composition and handle media and marketing for the Institute for Learning Partnership.

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