Archive for Saturday, March 30, 2013

Simons’ Saturday Column: KU mission should include helping grads find jobs

March 30, 2013


Kansas University commencement exercises are two months away, on Sunday, May 19. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the graduates have jobs lined up that tie in with their studies at the university.

A substantial number of the men and women may be considering graduate studies, and there will be those who choose to enter one of the nation’s military branches.

But how about the rest of them — the majority who spent four years on Mount Oread taking advantage of the many services provided by KU to prepare them for rewarding careers following their stroll down Campanile Hill and into Memorial Stadium?

A large number of parents and friends of upcoming graduates probably are asking the same question. Hopefully, the years as a student at KU have been enjoyable, but now it is time to get to work. Granted, a large number of these graduates already are working because they have had to have jobs during their school years to help their families pay the increasing costs of a higher education. Many of the graduates will be leaving the classrooms with a large financial debt.

But, again, the question of what percentage of the graduates, other than those going to graduate school or the military, have a firm commitment for a job after they turn in their robes and mortarboards?

The reason for asking this question is to raise another question: How good a job does the university do or how much emphasis does it place on working with students to find employment after their formal schooling?

It’s one thing for KU to provide a stimulating academic environment for young men and women, but shouldn’t there also be a desire to do what the school can to find jobs for its graduates? Or do some believe the school’s job is done once a student receives his or her degree, after which the student is on his own? With the university’s message being merely “good luck!”

How much attention is given to counseling, working with students about their career goals, discussing the pros and cons of various business or career fields, helping students develop ties with potential employers and setting up interviews?

Shouldn’t there be some correlation between teaching and inspiring students and the success of these students in finding meaningful employment in fields related to their studies?

Alumni and friends of the university, faculty members, administrators, parents, students, members of the Kansas Board of Regents and the lawmakers who determine the level of public funding for state-aided schools all pay attention to various university rankings. The annual U.S. News & World Report rankings cause considerable discussion, pro and con, particularly when KU and its schools do not measure up well with their peer institutions.

In one recent case, a KU school did not score as high as it should have in the magazine’s rankings because graduates of that particular school did not have a good record of employment a year or so after graduating. A new dean took immediate action and replaced the individual who was supposed to be working with students to develop contacts with potential employers.

At the KU School of Business, there is an excellent team approach to maximize a student’s experience in the classroom along with a well-designed plan in career services to maximize each student’s opportunities to get a good job. This program starts the first semester a student enters the business school and continues through graduation. Students are told what is expected and are encouraged to take advantage of study abroad programs. They are counseled on how to tie their interests, skills and academic courses to potential areas of employment that are compatible with their academic work and they are schooled on how to present themselves in job interviews.

Hopefully, this could become a model for other schools within the university.

At a time when state-aided universities are desperate to increase state funding, it would seem logical for lawmakers, taxpayers and regents to look more favorably on fiscal requests from universities with high student retention rates and high graduation numbers and whose graduates are in high demand by various employers.

Schools that get results, both in the classroom and in the work force, are sure to be favored both by state tax dollars and private contributions. It’s a win-win program for all the players — students, faculty members, parents, alumni, friends, the university and the state.

Again, how many students participating in upcoming commencement ceremonies have solid job commitments?

And what could and should be done to improve these numbers?


Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

The jobs must be available. Until all Americans rise up against outsourcing jobs to all other countries it will require more than KU to land anyone jobs.

There are sometimes 50 -100's of applicants for available opportunities. Employers can take their time with that many choices and offer reduced salaries = counter to the American dream.

India is preparing their Silicon Valley for an estimated 15 million white collar USA jobs getting shipped their way.

Grads must move on to VoTech schools after receiving their degrees. There are millions upon millions of grad students still looking for paychecks.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

There was a time when becoming employed by corporate America came with long term employment, fine wages and dependable retirement benefits. Those days are gone. Why did congress participate in killing the USA economy and millions upon millions of blue and white collar jobs?

Petition 20% Pay Cut for Congress - NO Golden Parachutes for Mismanagement

Tax Corp USA $75,000 annually for every USA job sent abroad each year that job stays abroad. Tax every leveraged buyout scheme another $75,000 per job sent abroad. INSTEAD of providing the tax code that protects the profits as a result of those USA industries and jobs sent abroad.

voevoda 5 years, 1 month ago

I guess, Mr. Simons, that you don't know about the KU Career Serices office?

voevoda 5 years, 1 month ago

According to you, toe, 400 individuals applied for the one job you heard about, of which only 2/3 were qualified. According to HigherEdJobs, there are currently 368 openings for college/university instructors with a doctoral degree in English. That is quite a bit more than 2/3 of 400, which would be 266. So it is false that "there are no jobs." Clearly, there are jobs, and perhaps not even a great oversupply of well-qualified applicants. But most graduates are smart enough to apply for every job for which they qualify. That is what accounts for the large number of applicants, toe, not a miniscule number of jobs.

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