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College Students Want Only Three Things

When you talk with large numbers of college students and ask them what they want from their college experiences, you will get a wide range of answers and comments. However, when you boil them all down, the results are pretty simple. Students want only three things:

1. A Good Education – Students want to learn from respected Professors, instructors, authors, technical experts, researchers and adjuncts who work in the field. They want up-to-date and even cutting edge information, equipment, projects and experiences. Students also want to learn from people who enjoy teaching them, make learning fun and interesting, give them unique learning experiences and want them to be successful.

Students love instructors who arrange workplace tours, bring in guest speakers, enable them to attend association meetings, conferences and lectures in their field of study, ask them to help with research projects or help with books, papers, consulting assignments and much more. They want practical and useful information and experiences, the kind that will be appealing to large numbers of employers who recognize that these students are at the top of their game.

When asked, most colleges will tell you that they are giving their students the opportunity to obtain a good education. Obviously, some colleges do a better job of this than others.

2. An Enjoyable College Experience – College is a time when students live and work closely with each other. Students would like to participate in a variety of campus activities, work experiences, sporting events and on and off campus groups and meetings. They want to assume leadership roles in areas of interest. They would like to meet and associate with people they respect and admire, join groups with similar or diverse interests, demonstrate their knowledge and skills on projects, volunteer in the community and work to better the college itself.

Some students seek opportunities to compete, opportunities to grow and opportunities for discovery. Importantly, students hope to build relationships with everyone they come in contact with, including: Campus leaders, Professors and instructors, administrators, employees, classmates, teammates, alumni, parents and people in the local community. Students want to form friendships, the kind that last a lifetime. They understand that these personal relationships will enable them to learn, play, have fun, laugh, socialize and benefit psychologically.

Students with many friends highly value their college experiences. The people, offerings, environment, culture and relationships that exist at your college play important roles in the feelings and experiences that students come away with.

3. A Good Job When They Graduate – No student wants to pay many thousands of dollars and invest two, four or six years in a college education and then graduate with no job. Since most students do not know even the basics of an effective job search, they expect the colleges they attend to come to their rescue and be there for them.

Many students view a good job as the end goal. They want their colleges to provide them with the employment information, guidance and training they will need to accomplish that goal. However, even students recognize that thousands of students cannot receive adequate assistance from a small number of people in the Career Services Office. Expecting students to competently obtain the information, develop an employment plan, prepare the materials, practice the skills, research employers, cultivate references and develop an employment presentation all from one or two meetings with Career Services and by visiting their web sites is completely unrealistic.

Students need and want colleges to do much more. They want their college communities to do everything possible to help them identify, prepare for and land good jobs. It should be obvious to everyone that students who are well trained and well versed in the employment process and strategies, understand exactly what has to be done, have created a great plan of action, prepare exceptional resum├ęs, practice interviewing techniques and receive regular, frequent and ongoing guidance which is tailored to their own needs will make out much better than students who are mostly left to their own devices.

Only daring, forward thinking, concerned and determined college leaders can transform a highly structured, change resistant, college culture into one that is agile enough to completely satisfy all three of these student needs and expectations. However, colleges that do not adequately satisfy student (customer) needs may someday find that fewer students are planning to attend, even online.