Thoughts for our District’s “New Focus”

I saw this back in May and put it on the shelf for the fall. CCC is clearly not alone in thinking about their career development responsibilities amid the current environment which seems to be focused on education as an economic engine while fanning a  parallel interest in/acclimation for tuition value justification, particularly for historically expensive undergraduate degrees. According to this article in The Chronicle (emphasis mine):

Wake Forest University wants students to [focus] on what kind of work is meaningful to them rather than what pays the most or what others want. To do that, the Winston-Salem, N.C., university is reimagining its career-development program to help its 4,600 undergraduates figure out who they are and what they want out of life long before they get to commencement. From their first days on campus, students will explore their personal interests and how those might translate into a job.

This pairing of students’ values and their professional paths is a departure from the traditional career-services office, which typically helps students with the mechanics of a job search and introduces them to recruiters. (Some institutions have taken a broader approach to career development in recent years, though not to the extent of Wake Forest.) The plan is part of the university’s broader strategic priority to focus on vocational and character development, and the university will put about $5-million behind it.

Too often, students’ career choices are based on uninformed ideas about certain jobs, on chance encounters with people in different fields, or on what others have told them they should do, says Andy Chan, the university’s vice president for career development, who designed the new program.

It’ll be interesting to see how the CCC conversation develops regarding this issue and what our initiatives look like in comparison to the program at Wake Forest given our differences in comparison to them. I’m relatively certain that, for one thing, $5 Million is a out of the question.

It makes me a little nervous to think about academics advising students regarding their career paths since A) we all have our own biases toward our own disciplines; and B) many academics have limited experiences in other careers. But if we are the primary advisors for students and the CCC isn’t going to spend $5 Million to hire new staff (and they probably shouldn’t, even if they had it), then how can faculty members make sure that we are not spreading  misinformation?