Mysterious Numbers Gave Me False Security: 3 Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Guest Post by Jennifer Grinder

When I began my search for a college, one of the first things I did was campus visits. It was in this time that I made a detrimental mistake to my future job hunt. I asked the question that many prospective college students ask, “What is this university’s job placement rate after graduation?” I was given this terrific statistic, “More than 90% of our university’s alumni are employed full-time or continuing their education within six months of graduation.” Since graduating, I have come to refer to job placement statistics as “mysterious numbers."

I job hunted for four months after graduation with no success. Finally, I had to take back one of my summer jobs just to pay my bills for a while. But to my college, I am considered part of the “90% of alumni that are employed full-time… within six months of graduation.”

1st Lesson Learned: In no way is a university’s mysterious number an accurate representation of whether graduates find jobs in the actual field of their degree.

What makes this number even more mysterious is that it doesn’t reflect at all on the college’s career service center and their involvement in the students’ search for a job. Every campus has a career service center, to my knowledge. But, in my opinion, if the career service center isn’t actively trying to help students find positions after graduation, they might as well not exist. I tried utilizing the career service center on my college’s campus. I contacted the service to schedule an appoint to get my resume looked over. The office was only open Monday through Wednesday. They eventually found time to fit me in. When I met with the career service professional, he said my resume was great. He told me they didn’t have any career fairs coming up before graduation and recommended I “take a temporary job, until I find something permanent”. That was it! He couldn’t even give me a list of successful Public Relations professionals from the university to contact.

2nd Lesson Learned: In no way is a university’s mysterious number an accurate representation of how (or even if), a college assists its graduates in finding jobs.

Another frustrating side to this mysterious number is a graduates’ deadline. From the moment a student officially graduates the clock begins to tick. Six months is all the time a graduate receives to find a job, or sign up for more classes. At a school where 80% of students receive student loans, it’s no wonder why 90% of students find jobs (any job) or continue their education within six months of graduation, they have to! Does this mean these students have made a decision that is best for the student and their future? Or does it mean they have done what they had to do in order to ensure they don’t default on their loans? From personal experience, it isn’t a decision made to fit me and my future.

3rd Lesson Learned: In no way is a university’s mysterious number an accurate representation of a graduate finding their desired career path.

So, for all of you students out there looking at colleges, don’t fall prey to the mysterious numbers of job placement after graduation. Moreover, take your career planning and development into your own hands. At the end of your time at school, there’s only one number that matters, your own placement rate – and with a little effort, you can make that 100%, regardless of your school’s involvement in your job search.

Who knows, if you’re lucky, maybe the college you choose will have a great career services program. I know they are out there, I’ve seen a few of them first-hand (after graduating, of course). Great career service centers do exist, but don’t depend on them to seek you out during college and make you use their services. And most certainly, do not depend on them to land you a job after graduation. Your future is in your own hands.

n40600866_31635356_77111Ms. Grinder is a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Political Science and Public Relations. She's spent the last five years politically involved and has worked on a wide variety of political and public relations campaigns. She's passionate about helping others achieve success. Follow her on Twitter: and LinkedIn:

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