Offer Career Services to Boost Student Satisfaction
By: Emma Rose Aug 15, 2019
Career services are a vital part of your offerings to online college students. While not every student will use career services, many will. They are particularly important if you want to attract first-generation students. Even students who are already employed full time, value and use career services to advance their careers.
Offering these services shows students that you support them beyond their college experience and reassures them that their investment in learning can yield tangible results in the form of jobs, promotions, and career advancement.
Who uses career services
The majority of students use career services. In fact, between 64 and 77% of students use at least a few of the career services offered by their school, according to the Online College Student Report 2019 from Aslanian Market Research. This isn’t surprising when you consider that 93% of online college students enroll to fulfill career aspirations. Whether they’re among the 53% starting a new career or the 18% preparing for their first professional job, career services are valuable for the majority of students.
Students who are first in their family to go to college are most likely to use these services. They may not have the same personal and professional connections as second and third generation college students, or they may simply be more open to help from all quarters. Whatever the reason, first-generation students are more likely to seek internship help, attend a school sponsored job fair, or participate in an alumni networking event.
Making these services available, and telling students how to access them, can help your college stand out. About one-quarter of online students identify with a minority group and one-third are first-generation students. Attracting these populations helps you reach enrollment goals while promoting diversity among your student body.
Career services can also help you maintain strong alumni relationships. According to the study, 37% of students said they intend to use career services after they graduate, while 24% of graduates actually did use these services. Helping students to advance their careers months or years after graduation, keeps them engaged with your university. These students may later become alumni donors, return to take additional courses, or recommend your programs to friends, family and colleagues.
Whether your goal is to boost enrollments, attract more first-generation students, or maintain strong alumni relations, investing in career services can deliver big returns for your online college.
Which career services are most popular
Offering the right mix of career services can help your college meet the needs of current students as well as graduates. Students use different services at different times depending on where they are in their educational journey.
Students use the following programs throughout their time in school:
Job search websites maintained by the school (25%)
Job search guidance (24%)
When students near graduation, 29% seek help from a career advisor. Early in their career, 23% of past students seek help with resume creation. Usage of most career services drops off after graduation, but 10% or more of students said they’d like help with internship placement, job interviews, job shadowing, career mentoring, or networking.
The most troubling fact about career services identified in the study was the discovery that about seven percent of students could name at least one career service that their school does not offer. In the competitive environment of online colleges, missing career services could put your school at a disadvantage.
Career Services Logistics
Offering the right mix of career services is just the beginning. You also have to tell students those programs exist and how to access them. Here are three ways you can help your students make the most of the career services offered by your online college:
Spread the word – Students won’t use career services if they don’t know those services exist. Make career services one of the selling points in your initial conversations with prospective students. Provide an easy link to career services in the Learning Management System or somewhere else that students will see it often. Mention services in your emails and other communications with students, and encourage professors to do the same.
Make them convenient – Most students enroll in online college because it is convenient. Career services need to be convenient too. Students should have a variety of ways to contact career service providers including email, messaging, phone calls and even in-person meetings. Make sure that websites and other self-service platforms are user friendly. Can students easily find what they need? Let real students test the system and share their feedback.
Remind students often – Knowing that students use different services at different times in their educational journey, you can send reminders to students at those milestones. For example, an email to a student a few weeks from graduation might include an invitation to schedule a call with a career advisor. Emails and messages in your learning management system can remind students that career services are available for them.
Online college students are busy people. They won’t remember everything they read when they first enrolled. Reminding them what services are available and how to access those services can ensure they get the help they need.
Ultimately, offering career services to online college students helps students reach their goals, which is good for them and good for your college.
A delicate balance
What about employers? Can career services be good for them too? Working with employers to recruit their staff can help you meet enrollment goals. However, some employers may see your career services as proof that you’re training working learners who will find other employment as soon as they have a diploma in hand. To avoid this perception, stress the value of career services to advance existing careers.
For example, talking to career counselors can help students get a job at a new company, but it might also help them earn a promotion where they already work. The same with polishing up a resume. Networking can help you find a new job, but it can also expand your client pool or help you find the vendor you’ve been seeking. Show employers and students that services can help the employer succeed as well.
Learn More About Online College Students
To learn about other services sought by online students download the Online College Students 2019 Report from Aslanian Market Research. This yearly study explores what, why, and how online students study and measures impacts and trends in online learning.