In 2011, Georgia State created a strategic plan to become a national model of undergraduate education by demonstrating that students from all backgrounds can achieve academic and career success at high rates. When it came to the academic success, Georgia State excelled with flying colors. But the university soon realized that they were failing at the second part of the promise — the pledge that students from all backgrounds will achieve career success.
Many graduates wrote to University President Mark Becker of their inability to secure permanent positions.
“Our students default rates on federal student loans increased to 8% and the number of Georgia State graduates seeking waivers to defer payments back to the federal government grew by 20%—two reliable indicators of the failure of graduates to find well-paying employment,” the Quality Enhancement Plan proposal stated.
A study done by Georgetown University’s Center of Education and the Workforce drew a troubling connection between the academic choices commonly made by low-income and first-generation college students and lower levels of earning power throughout their careers.
Georgia State faculty and administrators began to hear a chorus of similar reports from potential employers: student A or B looked great on paper, but “did not interview well” or “was not polished” compared to other applicants.
Isn’t there a career services center on campus?
Georgia State Career Services Internship and Co-op director, Makesha H. Dollery believes that students aren’t utilizing the resources that Georgia State provides its students in order to provide help with ensuring a full-time position upon graduation. Though in her experience employers say that Georgia State students are “ambitious” and “eager and willing to work”, they fall short in actually being prepared for the opportunity.
“I focus on internships and co-op. My role is to help prepare before you land a full time and what I’ve seen is that a lot of students don’t see the value in that and because they don’t see the value, they’re not taking steps in making sure they’re as competitive as they could be. So that’s a big factor in why they may not be successful in getting a job,” Dollery said.
With 58 percent of Georgia State students being on the Federal Pell Grant. This didn’t come to a surprise for the writers of the proposal.
“Majority of [Georgia State] students don’t come from professional households and many lack examples and supports in their personal lives to guide their professionalization,” the proposal stated.
The Quality Enhancement Plan
Georgia State has recognized its shortcomings and wants to be that guide to professionalism, and thus created the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The QEP describes a carefully designed course of action that address a well-defined and focused topic or issue related to enhancing student learning and/or student success.
Th 5-year plan is designed to have a clear cut pathway to success for students starting as incoming freshman through three different proposals and is expected to be implemented winter or spring 2019. The topics proposed are:
- College to Career: Career Readiness through Everyday Competencies
- Global Pathways to Student Success
- Experiential Learning
But what did this do for students already enrolled here at Georgia State?
According to the proposal, too many students put off engaging in career preparation until just before graduation, not realizing that landing a full-time job takes months for the process to be complete.
“It’s like when you think about planting a seed. If you plant the seed today, you don’t expect it to be a full-bloomed tree ready to give you an apple tomorrow. You have to put work in so that you can watch it grow and give you the outcome you want. It doesn’t happen overnight,” Dollery said.
But Dollery said students need to take advantage of the resource.
We are an office that is under-utilized. Statistically, we service the full campus, but we don’t always see the full campus in our office as far as coming out to events and coming by to the office to connect with us and so that we can connect them with opportunities,” Dollery said. “Students have to put energy into that [career] direction. They have to be active and they have to network because at the end of the day, the computer doesn’t hire people. People hire people.”