For many young people, their journeys from high school to college lack signposts. They often enter college without majors in mind – much less knowing the jobs they want after graduation.
These students have to learn to Just ASK! That’s a clever career counseling activity at the University of Colorado Denver. ASK stands for Assessing career paths, Searching for jobs and Knocking on doors of the best companies.
That’s where Jonne Kraning comes in. Kraning is director of the CU Denver Career Center, which helps students select majors, develop career plans and get those first jobs.
The center has, for years, relied on MyMajors for that key step of assessing what major is best suited to each student.
“It’s quick, it’s direct and to the point and it gives us a real starting point with students,” Kraning said.
“If I could only have one piece of technology in our career center, I would probably pick MyMajors.”
A goal of the CU Denver Career Center, and colleges nationwide, is to keep students in school and on track to graduate – clearly good for all involved: the student, the college and parents.
According to the American Institutes for Research, a group whose work includes educational assessments, 30 percent of college freshmen do not return to the same colleges for their sophomore years. And some never return to college, often because their studies lack focus and they’re not sure which way to go, careerwise.
And, much to the chagrin of parents, students who stay in school without majors are more likely to take extra time to graduate. In fact, only 36 percent of third-year students without declared majors graduate on time.
The Career Center at CU Denver aggressively reaches out to students in need of majors and good career options. It publicizes its free services on campus through advertising and career fairs.
When a student comes in for help, Kraning starts with a personal interview of 20 to 25 minutes.
“They talk about their hopes and dreams, about what they are good at and what they have noticed about themselves,” Kraning said.
Then the student completes a MyMajors nine-part survey to assess personality, interests, strengths and potential majors. Students also report their grades in specific subjects so the center can measure students’ proficiency.
Formal assessment testing usually validates what students may have felt was right for them all along.
“I have found that 99 percent of the time the pattern that comes up in MyMajors is the same one that came up in our conversation,” Kraning said.
The MyMajors assessment is perhaps most effective because it measures both interest and achievement. The correlation between these two is extremely important in determining a person’s career, as well as the likelihood of success in a field of study and career. Comparing students’ interests to their grades is the key proprietary method to find real opportunities for future college grads.
For example, a student with an interest in engineering, who also makes good grades in math, is a good fit. Without proficiency in math, that major would be difficult for any student to pursue.
MyMajors.com research covers more than 1,800 majors and 40,000 pages of career information. It has helped more than 525,000 students from the United States and around the world select suitable majors.
In 2011, MyMajors.com had more than 3 million website visits and 173,000 completed Interviews, said Bill Gaier, vice president of business development at MyMajors. And he expects traffic and interest to continue to grow due to a competitive job market and the need to quickly and efficiently find majors that lead to good jobs.
At CU Denver, which has an enrollment of about 16,000, the innovative Just ASK! career counseling campaign doubles as an invitation to succeed.
So, for Kraning and each of her undeclared students, it starts with a simple conversation and the quick and easy MyMajors assessment.
“MyMajors is simple yet powerful, and really helps us, as well as the students, figure out what needs to be done,” she said. “We love to see students with passion and purpose, pursuing things they like, and are really good at as well.”