College To Career – For High School and College Students

Most high school and college students fall into one of three categories with regard to career:

  1. They are all set to dive into a specific career path.
  2. Their career is unknown, but they have a specific subject they really enjoy.
  3. They have no idea of a career or a subject of special interest.

If you fall into the first category, you may want to investigate the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook to learn what level of education is needed for the career you have chosen, what the job forecast is for that career, and what the job typically pays.

If you are in the second category, you may want to find out what career options you might have if you major in that subject in college by checking out a site like this.

If you have no idea of a career or subject of interest, it might be best to determine your personality type using a Myers Briggs personality test and then see how the careers for that personality type appeal to you.

Whichever group you are in, it is good to get first hand career exposure for careers you are considering by doing as many of the following as soon as possible:

  • Talk with someone in that career
  • Shadow someone in that career for a few hours or a few days
  • Volunteer or work part time in that career or a related one to see if and how you like it
  • Do research or a capstone project related to your career
  • Take advantage of service learning related to your career (i.e., a class with a community service component) to gain some real world experience
  • Join a student organization related to your career.
Hands-on activities and projects by engineering students at Olin College

Be sure to take advantage of the career guidance available in high school and college. For example, your college advisor or a professor in your major can help you by:

  • Talking about the career with you and answering questions you may have
  • Providing guidance regarding what classes to take
  • Providing you research opportunities
  • Introducing you to potential employers
  • Providing references and letters of recommendation for graduate school or jobs.

Don’t forget to take advantage of your colleges Career Services offices which provides services like:

  • Career assessments
  • Help with resumes, cover letters, and interviews
  • Listings of internships, co-op opportunities and jobs
  • Career fairs
  • Graduate school application assistance including preparation for exams (e.g., GRE, LSAT, MCAT).

You can help yourself in your career search and growth by:

  • Strengthening you writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills
  • Joining professional organizations for your profession
  • Networking (e.g., with alumni, with local business people, with local chamber of commerce members)
  • Using social media like LinkedIn to aid in your job search.

While you are in college, don’t forget to keep your grades up and make use of these services so you can do your best academically:

  • Study groups
  • Professor’s office hours
  • Tutoring
  • Writing Center
  • Math Center
  • Learning Differences Resources (if appropriate).

Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

 Earlier this month, I attended Drexel University’s Counselor Open House.

Basics – Drexel has:

  • 12,750 undergrads from 41 states and 74 countries with an average class size of 18 students.
  • 12 academic colleges with more than 70 undergraduate majors.

Drexel is on a quarter system. There are 4 ten-week quarters each year. This is a fast-paced environment so good time management skills are critical.

The campus is undergoing an expansion. You can see my photos of the:

  • New LeBow Business School construction; the building should be open this Fall. 
  • Chestnut Street Retail and Residential Complex.

Co-op – Drexel is known for its co-op programs. Majors allow zero, one or three co-op experiences. Check on-line to see how many co-ops your intended major offers.

A co-op experience is a half-year long. Students who do zero or one co-op can finish their degree in four years. Students who do three co-ops will be in college five years. The tuition rate per year varies based on how many co-ops you plan to do. For a 4-year program, tuition is $41,500 per year. For a 5-year program, tuition is $33,800 per year. Students take a Co-op 101 class before a co-op assignment; in that class they learn about things like the job search and resume writing.

Some co-op assignments are paid and some are unpaid. Specifics are on the Drexel web site. As an example, engineers are paid for co-op experiences, while Fashion majors are not paid. If a co-op is unpaid, it is no more than 20 hours per week, allowing the student to work for pay elsewhere the rest of the week. Co-ops can be local, national or international. 85% of co-ops are within 50 miles of Philly. Students who take an international co-op receive a stipend to defer travel costs.

Other experiential learning opportunities – Undergrads have an opportunity to do research in the summer after their Freshman year in the STAR program. Students often have an opportunity to do experiential learning for companies as part of their studies (e.g., marketing campaigns for car companies). In the business school, there is a business consulting class where groups of five students are assigned to projects for non-profit organizations. Students do reflective writing in an electronic portfolio to tie together classes, co-op experiences, and other experiential learning. There is a Senior capstone project.

Academic services include tutoring at the Dragon Learning Center, a Math lab, an office of Disability Resources, pre-law and pre-health advising, and add-on sections of a half-credit for key courses for at-risk students, career development and career services, co-op services including co-op coordinators by major.

Applying to Drexel – Drexel uses the Common App. There is no application fee. The average high school student admitted to Drexel had a 3.6 GPA and an average SAT score of 1220 (Critical Reading and Math).

Drexel has changed from rolling admissions to Early Decision and Regular Decision. Early Decision applications are due on 11/15 with a decision by mid-December. Regular decision applications are due on 1/15 with a 3/28 decision. Portfolios are needed for Graphic and Fashion Design. To get in the Dance Program, you need to audition.

All applications are reviewed for merit aid, without a separate application. National Merit Finalists get a full-tuition scholarship. An alumni endorsement scholarship is worth $1000.

The earned income form co-ops does not impact the student’s Expected Family Contribution.

Social Life – There are over 300 clubs. Drexel has Division I athletics, as well as intramural and club sports. All students can participate in music, theatre, and dance. There are 14 music ensembles.

Honors Program – Students with a high GPA and SAT will be considered for the Honors Program. High school students accepted into the Honors program averaged a 3.9 unweighted GPA average and 1380 on the SAT (2 sections). Students with a 3.5 unweighted GPA and a 1350 on the SAT have a good chance to get in the Honors Program. There is honors housing for 400 Freshmen; Drexel is working on establishing Honors housing for Sophomores. Honors students get free tickets to cultural events, have opportunities for travel or to present research, get priority registration, special advising, and graduate with distinction. Honors students need to take a number of Honors classes or turn regular classes into Honors classes by doing an extra project. Students in the Honors program are encouraged to volunteer and to visit Philly. Students in the Honors program have a major advisor and an Honors advisor.

Who would be happy here? I think a career-minded student that wants a co-op experience, who likes the city, who can manage their time, and can readily switch between work and school, might like Drexel.