Education Career Services

August 12, 2009

College to career: Is the scale balanced?

August 12_2009Traveling the country to discuss career management issues and best practices with career directors, instructors, and staff is always beneficial on multiple layers.  The most recent trip to Chicago and the MWACE conference was no exception as the professionals I met and conversed with were not only informative (much of the great activities suggested will be incorporated into our career management material and textbook, allowing instructors and students to gain so much) but also went out of their way to show warmth in our attendance.

On the second morning of the conference, USA Today ran an article highlighting a recent graduate suing a university for not preparing her for a career defined by her inability to get a job (this after she paid $70,000 and countless hours to achieve her degree).  Needless to say, this was a “talk of the town” throughout the conference; leading one to ask:

“What should a college/university do to make sure they are doing all they can to prepare students for a college to career transition?”

The responses from the conference crowd were mixed while many expressed a sense of anger at the student for her aggressive litigation.  Personally (and I hope this does not upset any career directors out there), I am of the opinion that directing students to the Internet and having 30-second meetings is simply not enough…as the crowd now begins to stir with disapproval.

I am from the “old school” of brick and mortar where students learn by guidance and doing.  This means career management/professional portfolio classes, hard copy textbooks, student activities, mock interviews, etc. should not be replaced with click of the button approaches.  Think about it, learning by actually doing seems to have been replaced by the path most traveled (thus the easiest where instant gratification without due diligence is rewarded while the students sense of entitlement magnifies). 

For colleges and universities offering workshops, seminars, internships, externships, and professional development classes, fear of litigation is diminished as those colleges and universities have quantified student commitment to career success.  Does this mean more work for career directors by way of ensuring proper materials are being used and instructors (and administration) are on the same page? Yes, but only in the beginning of this journey.  For colleges and universities interested in curriculum and textbook development, I’ve been on all sides of the equation and will be glad to assist those desiring an objective and “been there” perspective.

Is the student mentioned in the USA Today article carrying forth litigation justified in her claim?  What do you think? More on this will be brought to you as the facts of the case unravel but I am interested in your opinion.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
Career Services International:



  1. In this day and time, I am certainly not simpathetic to litgation of any kind. But, I can relate to the student and her frustrations with faculty and staff, especially career development staff who feel a 5 minute conference and directions to a website such as is equivalent to helping a recent and quite frankly a terrified recent graduate with a job search. That is exactly what I received when I graduated from college last year. I felt finding a job and a career was totaling left up to me. If litigation get’s people thinking about responsiblity and job security than so be it. I remember my freshman year, career devleopment was the last thing on my mind. Now I feel it is the responsbility of the college/university and yes, the career devlepment department to make me aware of career delelopment from the start and the finish. Whether they like it or not.

    Comment by Irene Areola — August 12, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  2. Thank you for the comment and no doubt there will be many differing views on the subject.

    Comment by careersi — August 12, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

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