During conversations with a teen, or their parent, it is typical small to ask about the student’s interests in education. Most people believe that the college major is a key indicator about the type of work that someone will end up doing after college. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.

According to research done by Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz (Federal Reserve Bank) only 27.3% of college graduates are doing work that is related to their field of major.

What Colleges Get Wrong

The college major, and declaring it early, is important for college completion rates. Since only 60% of students who begin a college degree program finish, completion rates are important but they aren’t the whole picture. It’s well known that seeing the applicability of learning is important in adult learning for perseverance. However, the college major is no longer the best way to promote applicability in the market.

What Employers Miss

On the other side of the equation, employers recruiting on college campuses report significant skills gaps and professionalism gaps in their new hires. While there are many potential reasons for this gap in expectation and fulfillment, one certain contributor to the problem is the widening gap between industry and academia. Fueled by legislation that protects students from being exploited by employers, companies are often unable to provide opportunities for students to get hands on experience and funnel that information back to professors who often have very little recent or relevant job experience.

A Competency-Based Approach

The best approach to providing students with motivation through applicability, and meeting the needs of the market, is to approach training from a position of competencies. While many degree programs do proclaim competencies as a result, students often have little knowledge about what those are designed for and how to use them. In the Career Exploration Summer Program, students will learn how to find these competencies by talking to industry experts and researching the market, how to evaluate their progress toward these competencies and then how to use those competencies to be competitive in job applications, interviews, annual reviews, goal setting conversations, and salary negotiation.

Filling the Toolbox

This tool is only one, but perhaps the capstone tool, that students will develop in the Career Exploration Summer Program. Stay tuned for more examples and explanation on what your student could learn in this skills based program!