The evidence is mounting: the best way students can earn a return on their college investment is to invest in a college education that genuinely meets their needs for career readiness. A commitment to finding the right fit will ensure an ROI on many levels — personally, professionally and financially; from academic achievement to personal fulfillment and financial growth, and to success in the workforce following graduation.
Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions you can make. In many cases, it’s also one of the most expensive. Today’s college students take on increasingly large amounts of debt in order to enroll and work towards a degree. According to the publication Career Readiness for All, student loan debt has soared to $1.5 trillion, almost triple the level in 2007, and students with loans carry a crippling average balance of $37,000.
What makes these numbers even more alarming is the number of students who fail to graduate. Admission to college is, of course, predicated on the expectation that a student will earn a diploma which in turn will help him or her to get a job and pay back the loans. However, only 60% of first-time undergraduates finish a four-year degree within six years. Of those who do graduate, many find themselves with a job they don’t like. In a few years’ time, they are asking themselves why they ended up in this career in the first place.
But how do you know what college you should attend? How can you help your son or daughter find the right match? Despite the huge investment, most prospective college applicants and parents place more emphasis on the prestige of a college’s name, rather than focusing on finding the best fit. In fact, many families, according to Highlands’ Consultant Ray Giese, a Certified Financial Planner and Career Coach, put more due diligence into purchasing a car than in selecting a college.
Ray speaks to students and parents every day about how to make wise decisions with higher education, particularly when it comes to limiting student debt. The secret to making an informed decision is an investment in career development which includes self-reflection and integrates science-based data for career exploration. As defined by the Coalition for Career Development, career development is “a process that informs individuals about career opportunities, helps them identify their talent, become aware of how their talent transfers into a wide range of occupational opportunities and enables them to make effective decisions on the academic and postsecondary pathways that will enable them to pursue their career and life goals.”
Ray’s four-step process begins with the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB), so that clients are informed about their natural abilities. This is the building block for everything else, because students tend to be happier in a social and learning environment that meets their unique characteristics and personal style and more successful with careers that fit with their natural talents. Having identified their talents, Ray takes students through more exercises to make them aware of career possibilities aligned with their interests, values and goals. Taken altogether, this process is a powerful tool to motivate students academically as they envision their career and financial growth and independence.
Ray was recently interviewed on the podcast MNice Investor Goes to College. Click below to listen to the discussion, and learn more about career readiness, college selection, and making smart financial decisions.
Ray Giese, CFP®, CCSP®, MS
Career Coach & Personal Finance Coach/Educator
Career & Financial Pathways LLC