Why career counselors can be the hidden gem to enhancing your college search

Estimating chances of admission, researching colleges, and building a strategic college list is where we spend a good amount of time in the admission process. But there is one office on a college campus that is rarely talked about, especially in assessing if a college is a good fit for you or not.

Career centers and programs on college campuses can be the hidden gem that helps differentiate your resume from others upon graduation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again over and over, it’s not where you go, but what you do within that four year experience that will ultimately matter in the end game. Why? Because employers will see your degree and then look on beyond the credentials into your experience. This includes things like internships, work related to the field of entrance, letters of recommendation from professors you completed research with, study abroad experiences that connect you to a larger global network, the professionalism and quality of your resume, etc., etc., etc.

A career center is more than a space where they post local internships and give you a mock interview in preparation for your first real job. They’re more than putting together a job fair that you might attend spring semester. A career counselor may administer you assessments to help you decide which major or field to enter that best supports your natural preferences. A counselor may connect you with an alumni in your hometown area that you link up with over summer or winter break. They help tie everything together from your classes to your experience to ultimately your next big step.

When you’re researching colleges, I encourage you to go to their career page and see what’s going on. Take High Point University, for example, where every freshman gets a professional headshot and help with a LinkedIn profile, and parts of the campus is set up to feel like a real world professional environment, even to the point where there’s plane seats in their café and you can practice your small talk networking skills.

Dig deeper within your major if you know what you want to study. You might find specialized career support within your field. Take the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for example, where within their Engineering department, there’s support specifically for women as they enter a male dominated field. Support that looks like prepping students to negotiate salaries and fair wages.

There are SO many colleges with incredible programs and departments, but this is where your return on investment comes into play. You’ve done the work, now let the career center take you to the finish line. Happy researching!

How to research a college website in a savvier way

  1. Go to the colleges website
  2. Find the career center (either search in the search bar, or find it in any of the menus)
  3. Read through upcoming events. You might not be a student attending the university, but it’s important to get a sense of what would be offered to you during the school year.
  4. Look for resources, alumni stories, etc.
  5. If you have a specific department or major, go to the page and see if there’s any career support related to that discipline.

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