The Highlands Company Blog

Clarity for College Students and Their Career Choices

Students today feel a disconnect between the actions they are taking and their preparedness for future careers. A recent SHRM article highlights a Forage study in which one in three students reported feeling lost in the career planning process. They feel confused about the path from earning a degree to putting learned skills to use in a career.

So why are students experiencing this lack of direction, this sense of confusion, and how can they change their trajectories? At The Highlands Company, we believe the answer is simple: discover one’s natural abilities.

Start with the source

According to the Forage study, a majority (64%) of students claimed they were confused about where to start their journey. Our best advice? Start at the source: you. Taking an objective, in-depth aptitude test such as the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) has the potential to be a significant driver in career planning.

Imagine you’re an introvert but your job requires you to attend regular day-long events to rub elbows with people in your industry. Or maybe you’re a long-term planner but your job is so fast paced that change is constant and decisions are made on the fly, minute by minute. While both of these scenarios are doable, and may be improved upon with practice, at the end of the day, these tasks leave you drained. Knowing this about yourself and choosing a career that caters to your innate abilities, personality, and style lends to an easier, perhaps more fulfilling path.

In her career counseling practice, Mary Feduccia, a Highlands Certified Consultant, found “the exploration of aptitudes and abilities was the missing link to a fully comprehensive approach to making the best decision about a college major and career.” Discovering and embracing one’s natural abilities is a foundational step upon which focused, life-enhancing decisions can be made.

4 tips to set college students up for career success

The SHRM article goes on to explore beneficial steps students can take to gain clarity and bolster their paths toward post-college career success. The following tips, in conjunction with HAB results, offer a roadmap of sorts for navigating the process:

  1. Decide early: When it comes to deciding a major or career path, the earlier the better. Ideally, this is chosen in one’s freshman (or at least by sophomore) year of college; doing so ensures that decisions made going forward are on track to reach the intended outcome (that is, land a perfect-fit career).
  2. Get involved in extracurricular activities: Show employers that you are well rounded and have initiative—all while exploring hobbies and interests that may play a role in your career choice.
  3. Network in the right circles: Professors are fantastic resources, but when it comes to networking for a future career, it’s often more beneficial to develop a relationship with a mentor or professional in your chosen field.
  4. Gain transferable skills: Had a job before? What skills did you learn? On-the-job skills, even when general, are transferable and may be applicable to the job duties of a position you’re pursuing.

Where’s the support?

The Forage study indicates there is presently a “Great Disconnect” between talent, employers, and educators. Employers have expectations, educators are increasingly lacking in real-life experience to truly understand these expectations, and students are stuck in the middle, confused about what advice to follow and from whom.

A Highlands Certified Consultant (HCC) can help. This consultant not only offers access to and customized interpretation of the HAB but also provides the specialized career counseling support students need to navigate the career planning process. HCCs can:

  • Help students interpret the uses for their abilities and provide a broader context for using them;
  • Show students how much they already know by making connections between  experiences and natural abilities; and
  • Eliminate unrealistic options under consideration—this alone can facilitate making decisions about career paths.

Find clarity and move forward with confidence

The information gleaned from a Highlands Ability Battery assessment is eye-opening and insightful. These results help students identify their natural aptitudes; with this powerful knowledge they can target majors and career paths that will deliver lifelong satisfaction. Learn more about the HAB today and begin forging a clear path toward career success.