Jobs and college

Perhaps more than ever, college students and their families are concerned about jobs. In the past, higher education institutions competed on prestige and academic profile. Today, higher education institutions are increasingly facing pressures on learning outcomes, career preparation, and job placement. A variety of external economic and political pressures have caused this shift, which affects every type of degree program from an applied associate’s degree to a traditional liberal arts degree. Everywhere you go, students and parents are asking about jobs for new college graduates.

Higher education marketers should monitor this trend and help their institutions adapt to these changes. On Thursday, April 18, 2013, Inside Higher Ed hosts “Jobs and College: What Really Matters.” I will attend this one-hour webinar, and I would encourage every other higher education marketing professional to do the same.

According to the webinar description, Georgetown University Research Professor Anthony Carnevale will share data on the topic of the economic value of degrees and certificates and how to apply that data academic affairs, admissions, and advising.

Much of my work at the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education focuses on college completion. I have been using data from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, of which Dr. Carnevale is director, for almost three years. The evidence is clear: more college graduates in a region correlates to higher economic prosperity. I have read multiple reports from a variety of sources, and all of them reach the same conclusion. Using these data as a rationale and rallying cry, my organization leads the Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend to convene business, civic, education, nonprofit, and philanthropic stakeholders for programs that boost college completion.

As a program manager, I am concerned about broader economic forces and regional economic development plans. However, as a higher education marketer, I must also focus on the needs and wants of individual students and families and the important role college has in satisfying those needs and wants.

As a marketer and communicator, I should know how students and families value a college degree and how academic programs prepare students for jobs. Each campus needs to explore this question in order to understand what it might do better to prepare students for jobs (i.e., how it can adapt to its environment), and what it might do better to communicate its advantages versus its top competitors.

Thursday’s Inside Higher Ed webinar is only one of a multitude of sources on jobs and college, a topic on which higher education marketers should become experts.

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