Can we afford to leave this glass half full?

Can we afford to leave this glass half full?

A lot has been written about the challenges of helping first-year, post secondary students persist to graduation.  Low persistence rates mean fewer students graduate and enter the workforce as skilled workers. In this sense, our ability to increase persistence has a direct impact on the quality of our workforce and our ability to compete in the future global economy. We’ve written a white paper on this subject, The Need for First Year Experience Programs, that summarizes research on the effectiveness of First Year Experience programs for those institutions still on the fence about offering a robust, accredited program to all entering freshmen. In short, here’s what we learned: According to the Lumina Foundation, there will be a consistent, and widening, gap between the millions of jobs in the future requiring at least a 2-year degree, and the supply of college graduates to fill those jobs. The economic opportunity glass, if you will, will be left unfilled if we do nothing. Filling this gap will require that we prepare more high school students to be “college ready” and increase their persistence on to post secondary graduation. A review of literature on robust, first year programs designed to support students and increase their persistence suggests that these programs are effective. A non-empirical review of the programs currently available to students reveals that many institutions offer a freshman orientation course, usually taking a single day of information on healthy living habits and reviewing the institution’s student conduct code.  Other institutions offer remedial courses in math or English and consider this enough. In our opinion, neither approach is completely adequate. The first year programs that...
A New Year’s resolution for your job or career

A New Year’s resolution for your job or career

The first of the year is always a great time to take a moment and explore where you are in your job or career and entertain taking steps to change your direction. And yet, for every one person who takes a moment to consider their next steps, there are ten others who never actually take the plunge. So why is this? Perhaps its because the road to a new career is pock-marked with any number of hazards and missteps. Or maybe friends and family question your thinking, or fail to understand your yearning for more satisfaction in your job. Or maybe, you haven’t taken some time to really understand yourself, your strengths and how to leverage them into a career or job where you’ll find more satisfaction. This might sound like a tall order, especially if you don’t know, or can’t afford a good, qualified career coach. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five steps you can take now to jump the gap between yearning for a new career and actually having one. Make sure you now why you are looking for a new direction. Often we mistake feeling the need for more money for much deeper dissatisfactions with our jobs and careers.   Research report after research report confirms that an increase in salary rarely results in greater job satisfaction. You need a clear-eyed, deep understanding of just what is really dissatisfying to you before you can honestly search for a new direction. Understand your unique personal strengths. This involves looking at your personality type, work style preferences and skills and talents. This needs to...
School’s out for summer… it’s a great time to reflect on “what’s next”

School’s out for summer… it’s a great time to reflect on “what’s next”

Down-time this summer is important. Just look at how stressed high school students and their parents  are. I don’t know about you, but some of my greatest moments of clarity have come as I’ve laid on a beach, sat on a rock, climbed a steep trail or just took the time to be quiet despite the havoc and confusion of life around me. For me, down-time is important. So, with some summer down time coming, why not spend a little of your downtime exploring “What’s Next” for you? Books are a natural place to start. Amazon is filled with self-help and improvement books that help you answer the “What’s Next?” question. I have tons of these books on my bookshelf and nightstand, and I’ll bet you’ll see beaches and airports filled with people reading them this summer. But when I think of answering “What’s Next?”, I’m also thinking about something much more fundamental…satisfaction with where I am, and where I want to go. Clinical psychology has taught us that the path to satisfaction… answering the “What’s Next” question on a much deeper level… first involves having a deep understanding of yourself…your personality, your strengths, challenges and your unique talents and skills. Most of us, whether adults or students, haven’t had the luxury of time to really explore this deeper aspect of our self nor connect it to ideas about what might be next for each of us. We’ve had to divide our attention between school, work, family and other outside commitments. This summer, you’re likely to have a bit more time for focus on you and your answer to “What’s...
When it comes to a new career path… it’s never too late

When it comes to a new career path… it’s never too late

Popular opinion has it that if you haven’t written your great novel, painted your masterpiece or launched your successful start-up by your mid-40s, you’re never going to do it. An interesting story in The New York Times debunks this myth, citing several examples of people finding success later in life and research to support the findings. This is great news for just about anyone who’s thinking about their career path and their future. For high school students, it suggests that they might have several successful career paths in front of them. For people mid-career, there are several career paths ahead that could lead to more satisfaction, success and fulfillment. And for those in late career or retirement, being open to new ideas and directions can lead to new levels of satisfaction and unexpected success. Here are five suggestions that can help make your new career path happen, no matter what stage of life you are at: Be open to learning new things about yourself. We are all constantly changing and being changed by our environment. Through our experiences (good and bad), we can sharpen our strengths and recognize our weaknesses. When we stop listening, we stop growing. Reach outside yourself for input. Don’t be afraid to ask others for their thoughts, be open to tools and assessments that can help you identify your strengths and potential, and learn how to translate your innate talents into a new career path. Oftentimes, the biggest barrier to change is our fear of reaching out to others. Go with your strengths. For many of us, the only real feedback we’ve ever received has been through an employee/employer review process focusing on areas...
Finding the right career shouldn’t depend on luck

Finding the right career shouldn’t depend on luck

What do you want to be when you grow up? Who hasn’t been asked that question? When we’re little kids we can dream big about being a pro athlete, a doctor, lawyer, musician, scientist, world leader, pilot, video game producer or just about anything else we can imagine. But the thing is, as we grow older, the answer to that question is often more difficult to answer. Back in the day, you picked a career and, if you were lucky, you were good enough at it to make a living for a lifetime. If you were lucky, you actually liked what you did. If you were even more lucky, you loved what you did. If you were lucky.  Today, more people than ever are asking that same question as the working world changes under their feet, seemingly every five years. How can anyone steer a steady path in this kind of environment? We believe a key to answering this challenge is in understanding who you are first, then applying this insight to searching out what you want to be when you grow up, or where you want to go next. Over the past 40 years psychologists have taught us that we each have a unique combination of personality traits, skills and talents and view of the world, and that unique combination that is you drives how you interact with others, how well you perform certain tasks, and, ultimately, determines how satisfied you feel with your life. Today we have clinically proven tools that can help you understand your unique combination of personality, talents, skills and preferences, and translate that insight into...