Ask the professor: “What are good ways to prepare for a presentation?”

Reading Time: 2 minutes Have an upcoming presentation to make? Keep your audience engaged (and awake) with these 5 simple tips.

Ask the professor: “How do you know when you have too much on your plate?”

Reading Time: 2 minutes Do you have too much on your plate, or is this what it feels like to be a normal college student? Learn what to do if you’re feeling overwhelmed, overextended, and just over everything.

Ask the professor: “What’s a good way to retain the information you just read?”

Reading Time: 2 minutes

—Jaidan O.*, Portland State University, Oregon

(*Name changed)

Reading is one of those college activities that some students love to hate. And in this technology-driven world, which provides all kinds of engaging ways to learn, reading seems so… well, “last century.”

Here’s the difference: While your latest smartphone may be outdated next week, good old-fashioned reading strategies never go out of style. One of the most popular—and most effective—is Frances Pleasant Robinson’s SQ3R method:

Survey

Before you dig into any reading assignment, do a quick inspection of the material. What’s the title? Who’s the author? How long is the assignment? What are the first and last paragraphs? Surveying your reading helps you prepare for how much time you may need to spend and what you may expect. You can do this very quickly.

Question

Once you have read the title, maybe even the headings in the chapter and the summary at the end and other parts of the reading material, ask yourself a few questions to prime your brain to read actively. “What do I already know about this subject?” and “What did my professor tell me I need to pay attention to?” are two questions that can start you thinking about your reading assignment before the assignment even begins. You can do this part quickly as well.

Read

This is where you dig into the assignment. It’s usually best to read with a pen or pencil in your hand so you can make notes about what you’re reading, write questions about the material, and mark any unusual words, statements, or ideas. In some cases, you may need to reread difficult passages. You will need to take your time on this part; there’s no shortcut to reading an assignment thoroughly.

Recite

Reciting can be done by talking through what you just read or by writing a brief summary of the material. This step is important because it helps you check your comprehension. It can keep you from passively reading and not retaining anything you read. Depending on the length of the assignment, you will need to stop occasionally to recite before moving on. You can do this part quickly once you develop strong summary and comprehension skills.

Review

The chances are slim that you can read something once and recall all the important details. Therefore, you will need to take some time and review what you’ve read. This is where your reading notes come in handy. Instead of rereading the entire assignment, you can review the notes you took, the vocabulary you marked, and the summaries you wrote. Depending on how you will use the reading (e.g., you may be tested on the material), you may also need to translate the information into other study aids (such as flashcards or practice tests). You may spend the most time on this step, but it will pay off. You will remember and understand what you have read.

← Back to Orientation

Ask the professor: “What’s the best way to work with nontraditional students in group projects?”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

—Daniel A., Portland State University, Oregon

Let me start with a confession: I was not the world’s best group project member. In fact, I was pretty bad. Why? Because I was focused on the “project” and not the “group,” which means I bulldozed over the humans I had to work with to get that A. Little did I know that I had missed the opportunity to develop important people skills that I am still working on.

Hopefully, some of your group members will be more experienced with, and enthusiastic about, group work than I was. You might be worried if you’re working with a mix of older, younger, more experienced, and less experienced students, but there’s no reason to be. In fact, there are some real benefits to having a mix of ages and experience levels in a group environment. Here are some:

  • Students returning to college after time away typically spent time in the job market, and that means they’ve had more time to refine their collaborative skills. Use this to your advantage by asking for their real-world tips on group work. Their experiences can help shape your approach.
  • Older students typically know their strengths and weaknesses because they’ve had more time to figure them out. They will likely know where they’ll be most helpful. Just ask.
  • Many nontraditional students are juggling full-time work, careers, families, and care-giving with their student life. While that may make them busier, it also makes them more likely to seriously focus on their tasks and want to get the most from the experience.

Calendar vectorYou might run into a few problems here and there with scheduling, especially if some of your group mates have more responsibilities than others. Here are a few ideas for working through schedule conflicts:

Use your first meeting to establish how many times you’ll need to meet and how long those meetings will be. Then get them on everyone’s calendar.

Be clear about what work can be done remotely. You don’t need to go over every single detail of people’s tasks in person. In fact, a lot of the work can likely be completed independently so you can use the meeting time to review and get on the same page. Clarify what work each of you can do remotely and how you’ll check in when you’re not face-to-face.

Set communication expectations. Exchange contact info, make a group text or chat, or start an email chain to send updates and check in. This can reduce the time needed to meet in person and can make your meetings more efficient.

Laptop vectorUse collaborative technology in place of meeting times if scheduling gets hectic. A shared Google Doc or presentation gives everyone the chance to see progress and provide feedback, no matter where they are or what time of day it is.

Once you’ve figured out how to make it work for everyone, figure out how the project is going to work overall. Here are a few more tips:

  • Determine individuals’ preferences. Your first meeting should establish who prefers to do what task. Your group members know their strengths and weaknesses, and they should use that knowledge to choose tasks that play to their strengths. Here’s where that experience comes in handy.
  • Assign tasks and deadlines…but be flexible. Life will get in the way and humans will do human things—such as not deliver on their task—so be prepared that even if you have a clear plan in place for completing the project, there will need to be adjustments. It’s part of the process!
  • Be honest. Ask for group members’ honesty as they work on their tasks. A member can’t deliver what was promised? That member needs to let the group know immediately. Make an agreement that honesty will be encouraged and supported.
  • Get it done without malice. Many times, I have been the one who came in at the end and took care of the incomplete tasks, and many times, I had a bad attitude about it. I encourage you to keep focused on the completion of the project and do what is needed without getting angry at group members who didn’t do what they promised. This is a good lesson in meeting “real world” deadlines and working with people effectively.

Ask the professor: “How do I choose a major or minor?”

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“How do I go about choosing a major or minor?”—Taylor V.*, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador

*Name changed

Choosing a major can be a joyous occasion (Hey, I found my life’s calling!) or it can be anxiety-producing (What if I change my mind? What if I realize I don’t like it?) or somewhere in between. I remember alternately experiencing highs and lows after I decided to major in English literature. While I loved my classes and the work, I didn’t love answering the question “And what are you going to do with that?”

What intrigues you?

  • Another way to ask this is “What classes interest you?”
  • The answer to this question can help you determine what major may sustain your interest over the long haul of completing a degree. To figure this out, scan your university’s course descriptions in majors you’re considering.
  • Do the class descriptions excite you? Make you curious to learn more? Seem like fun or worthwhile?
  • Be sure to look at all levels of classes, not just the ones you are eligible to take.

What bores you?

  • Or you may ask yourself, what topics would be excruciating for you to study?
  • Finding what you don’t like is just as important as discovering what you do like. No offense to anyone reading this, but I would have never felt excited in a music or a math class. And while I do like the process of learning, the thought of cutting something open and observing it in a science class did not excite me as a college student. Scanning descriptions of courses can start you on the road to narrowing down your choices.

What’s your overall goal?

  • Do you want to step into an entry-level job after graduation, or do you want to go directly to a graduate program.
  • The answer to that question—even if you’re not 100 percent sure now—may affect your decision on a major. For example, if you’re eying a job as a speech pathologist after college, you may want to do a little research to determine what majors are most likely to get into speech pathology graduate programs. Or if you want to go to law school, do some research on the majors of the top law students. (Hint: It may not be political science.)
  • You can use the same research steps if you want to go straight into the workforce. There are some industries in which a specific major is required, and there are others in which there is no preference for a specific major.

What are the requirements for this major?

  • Once you determine a few possible majors (or maybe you have found THE ONE), talk to an advisor about the requirements for completing the major. Taking certain courses in a certain sequence may be required, but there may be others: Grade point average, internships, clinical work, or field requirements are just some of the “extras” that could be necessary for you to achieve before you can walk across the stage. Are you willing and able to complete those requirements?

Of course, after you’ve answered these questions—and done a little research—talk to everyone you can find. Ask advisors, career counselors, faculty, upper-class students, and employers about how they made their own decisions and what advice they would give you. You will find that choosing a major or minor that suits your interests and long-term plans is a little bit science (doing the research) and a little bit of an art (staying true to yourself).

Ask the professor: How can I get myself to focus when studying?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

—Jordan V.*, University of North Dakota

(*Name changed)

As I write this response, I’m listening to a radio station, checking Facebook (for the news, really), and monitoring my email for…well, in case I can find something urgent that needs a response. (By the way, there were no urgent emails when I just checked. I guess I need to finish this response.)

This is all to tell you that I, probably like you, am a distracted person. It has gotten worse as I have found more entertaining things to do to keep my mind off my work. I mean, cute cat videos are fun, and they make me feel better when I’m procrastinating. However, we all have deadlines and work to do, which is why I have created a list of tips to help you stay focused.

1. Acknowledge you have a problem

This is the first step to making a change. If you know you get easily distracted, you will more likely change your behaviors. How do you know you have a problem? One sign: Completing tasks takes you much longer than you think it should. Another: You find yourself completing assignments with barely any time to spare (or late), when you’ve actually had plenty of notice.

2. Set a time and place for distractions

Yes, you need to treat distractions as you would your work, instead of letting them “show up” whenever they want. Just as you schedule time for studying or writing a paper, you should also schedule time for checking your Twitter feed or Snapchat. For example, set a timer for 45–50 minutes to work on a task or study for a test. Then take a timed break for 5–10 minutes.

3. Fake it till you make it

Sometimes distractions lure us away from our work because we aren’t that enthusiastic about what we must do. A 20-page paper on the economy of an ancient civilization? Hmm…that may not shout “exciting activity,” which is why, by contrast, our diversions are welcome. If you find yourself faced with a task that is important—such as studying for a final exam—tell yourself, whether you believe it or not, “This task will be interesting,” or “I can improve my skills by completing this assignment and that will help me in the future.” Repeating these claims can motivate you to keep going when you want to find something else to do.

Ask the professor: What’s a good way to retain the information you just read?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

—Jaidan O.*, Portland State University, Oregon

(*Name changed)

Reading is one of those college activities that some students love to hate. And in this technology-driven world, which provides all kinds of engaging ways to learn, reading seems so… well, “last century.”

Here’s the difference: While your latest smartphone may be outdated next week, good old-fashioned reading strategies never go out of style. One of the most popular—and most effective—is Frances Pleasant Robinson’s SQ3R method:

Survey | Before you dig into any reading assignment, do a quick inspection of the material. What’s the title? Who’s the author? How long is the assignment? What are the first and last paragraphs? Surveying your reading helps you prepare for how much time you may need to spend and what you may expect. You can do this very quickly.

Question | Once you have read the title, maybe even the headings in the chapter and the summary at the end and other parts of the reading material, ask yourself a few questions to prime your brain to read actively. “What do I already know about this subject?” and “What did my professor tell me I need to pay attention to?” are two questions that can start you thinking about your reading assignment before the assignment even begins. You can do this part quickly as well.

Read | This is where you dig into the assignment. It’s usually best to read with a pen or pencil in your hand so you can make notes about what you’re reading, write questions about the material, and mark any unusual words, statements, or ideas. In some cases, you may need to reread difficult passages. You will need to take your time on this part; there’s no shortcut to reading an assignment thoroughly.

Recite | Reciting can be done by talking through what you just read or by writing a brief summary of the material. This step is important because it helps you check your comprehension. It can keep you from passively reading and not retaining anything you read. Depending on the length of the assignment, you will need to stop occasionally to recite before moving on. You can do this part quickly once you develop strong summary and comprehension skills.

Review | The chances are slim that you can read something once and recall all the important details. Therefore, you will need to take some time and review what you’ve read. This is where your reading notes come in handy. Instead of rereading the entire assignment, you can review the notes you took, the vocabulary you marked, and the summaries you wrote. Depending on how you will use the reading (e.g., you may be tested on the material), you may also need to translate the information into other study aids (such as flashcards or practice tests). You may spend the most time on this step, but it will pay off. You will remember and understand what you have read.

Ask the professor: How do you write a good thesis statement?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“How do you write a good thesis statement?”

—Lauren H., Trent University, Ontario


This is a great question. I’ve been teaching college writing for almost 20 years and have read a lot of essays that haven’t included one of the most important components of good writing: a point!

Each of your professors will have their own idea of what makes a good thesis statement. A thesis for a history paper may look different from that of a science research paper. Regardless of the subject matter, however, most professors agree that a good thesis is always clearly written and makes a point that you support in the rest of your writing. And if you can include it within the first or second paragraph, all the better.

Because every assignment is different, here are some general questions to ask yourself as you draft your thesis statement:

  • What is your purpose, or why are you writing your paper? The answer should move beyond “Because my professor said I had to.” Instead, think about whether you’re informing your reader about a topic or persuading your reader to think or act differently. Your answer to this question will influence your thesis.
  • What are you arguing? Most college assignments require that you make a claim about a topic and then provide evidence to support that claim. For example, you may argue that a character in a play is responsible for their own demise. If you’re making that claim, then you will find examples within the play to support your thesis.
  • What do want your readers to learn? For example, if your answer is “I want them to see Willy Loman as a true hero and not a failed man,” then you can use that to create a thesis such as this: “Willy Loman is often seen as a failed man, but he’s actually a true hero.”
  • Can you create a question? Thinking about a question may prompt you to generate a good thesis statement. For example, if you ask yourself, “How were women affected by early 20th-century industrialization?” your answer could end up being a great foundation for a thesis statement.

The 4 keys to college courses

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Grades not what you expected? You’re not alone. I see countless students each semester who have that shocked look on their faces when they get their first midterm back. (In some cases, they’d thought they aced it.) Many students tell me stories of little work and decent grades in high school; they sincerely want to pick up their performance in college but don’t know how. I have whittled down my advice to the four “Ps” (and “party” is not one of them).

Priority

Problem: If you’re always putting something else before your classes and schoolwork, that’s a major red flag. In a recent survey by Student Health 101, one in three students who responded said that prioritizing their studies is often or sometimes a struggle.

Solution: Your academic life and tasks need to be very high priority. Paid jobs and downtime are important too, and call for careful, ongoing time management. If hanging out with your friends routinely trumps your studies, you need to make a change. Much of what you do each day should have to do with class work.

Place

Problem: You won’t be able to focus if you don’t have a place to do it. Roommates, group meetings, and social media will destroy your time management strategy. In our survey, one in three students said finding a place to study is sometimes or often a challenge.

Solution: Find a quiet place where you can think and do. It may be the library. It may be the coffee shop. It may be an empty classroom. It needs to be a place that you associate with getting down to business—the business of doing the work.

Product

Problem: If your study habits aren’t effective, you won’t retain what you’re learning. In our survey, nearly half of respondents said this is sometimes or often a struggle.

Solution: It is not enough to passively read a chapter for sociology. You also need active learning strategies, like taking notes, creating flashcards, and sketching diagrams. If you don’t have a product, whether it’s a completed assignment or a summary of a reading, you haven’t done the work necessary to build the knowledge base you need.

Person

Problem: Other people can work with or against us. In our survey, three in five students said they are sometimes or often distracted from their studies by others.

Solution: Ask at your tutoring center about academic coaching, and/or find an “accountability partner” to check in or study with each week. This person should be at least as responsible as you are, if not more so. These students seem to know what is going on in class and they’re making good grades, which means they often have good habits you can learn from. Also, don’t be a distraction to anyone else.

Amy Baldwin

Amy Baldwin, MA, is co-author of The College Experience (Prentice Hall, 2015) featuring realistic student scenarios and strategies.


Get help or find out more

The College Experience: Amy Baldwin, Brian Tietje, Paul G. Stoltz
2nd edition, Prentice Hall, 2015

The A Game: 9 Steps to Better Grades: Kenneth Sufka
Nautilus Publishing Company, 2011

Tip sheet for college success: New York Times

Resources for studying by subject: Howtostudy.org

Time management & studying resources: Studygs.net

Learning strategies: Dartmouth College

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The job prob: How learning to lead can help you succeed

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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Midterms month: time to evaluate our national or local leaders, get into bitter online arguments, and even vote. But as much as we complain when our leaders fall short of our expectations, we all know that leadership is a profoundly important resource in both civic and professional life. And even if we’re not headed for politics, we’re all headed for the job market.

In the context of your future career, you might be wondering:

  • What exactly is professional leadership?
  • What will leadership skills mean for my career?
  • Which personal characteristics are the most important for leadership?
  • What if I don’t have a “leader’s” personality or skill set?
  • How can I gain leadership experience as a student?
  • How can I present those skills to future employers?

For stories of two students who developed their leadership skills in different ways, read further.

“Roles and responsibilities I had never had before”
Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

William Edwards, 19
University of Central Arkansas in Conway
Degree: Health sciences/physical therapy

Program
The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) provides men and women with an opportunity to prepare for service in the Army. “We make leaders from day one,” says Major Todd Gray, associate professor of military science at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Students who enroll in the ROTC “learn not just how to lead in the Army, but also at any company as soon as they graduate.”

More information.

What & why
William, a native of Texas, had turned down several soccer scholarships. He wanted a new way to challenge himself. “In the ROTC, I was instantly put into new roles and responsibilities. I had to organize my team and make sure they had all their equipment, showed up on time, and did their jobs. I was responsible for leading them from day one. In this program you learn to do things differently and take criticism.”

After
“I have surprised myself in my abilities to do things that I didn’t know I could do, like being a good time manager and commanding respect from my cadets.”

New goals
“I am committed to finding more opportunities to push me harder than I would push myself, whether that means taking on larger responsibilities each year, or something as simple as being the first to go at a task.”

Advice
“ROTC is a great thing to do and you can try it out without committing to it. Trying new things can’t hurt you.”

“Ideas are easy, practice is hard”
Disability advocacy academy

Lydia Brown, 21
Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Degree: Arabic major, psychology minor

Program
The Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Summer Leadership Academy brings together students on the autism spectrum for training in disability advocacy.

More information.

What & why
“We should be celebrating the diversity of students with disabilities, rather than trying to ‘cure’ them” (a concept known as neurodiversity), says Lydia. She was concerned too about the barriers to higher education facing students with disabilities. She helped create the No Wrong Door project, a listing of resources for students with disabilities; organized letter-writing campaigns, boycotts, and protests; and drafted legislation. When her school announced a panel on autism, she successfully advocated for the inclusion of an autistic person.

After
“I developed a much clearer idea of what leadership looks like. It is very easy to organize people around an idea, but very hard to put it into practice.”

New goals
“I founded the non-profit organization Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective to fill the gaps that still exist for students with disabilities.”

Advice
“Find leadership programs that line up with your values and passion.”

Interviewer shaking hands

Which qualities do you most admire in our national leaders?

“I admire people who do not strive for fame but work hard fighting for human rights and equality.”
Dana G.*, fourth-year student at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
*Name changed for privacy

“I admire anyone who knows the value they bring to the table. Everyone has different sets of skills and talents. Also I respect those who know when to let others shine and step back.”
Jorge Z., third-year student at Edgewood College, Madison, Wisconsin

“I admire any person who not only looks out for our country financially but also socially. America is one of the newest countries that holds any power in the world. I pride myself on our ability to accept differences and be pro-social change.”
Elaine R., fourth-year student at Towson University, Maryland

“Anyone who is self-sacrificing. Who puts themselves last. Who does not have an agenda.”
Laura E., University of West Georgia in Carrollton

Which US politicians do students most admire—and most despise?

Most admired:

  • Hillary Clinton [D] Former Secretary of State
  • George W. Bush [R] Former President
  • Elizabeth Warren [D] Senator
  • Barack Obama [D] President
  • Ron Paul [R] Former Representative
  • Bill Clinton [D] Former President
  • Ronald Reagan [R] Former President

Most despised:

  • Hillary Clinton [D] Former Secretary of State
  • George W. Bush [R] Former President
  • Barack Obama [D] President
  • John Boehner [R] Speaker, House of Representatives
  • Mitt Romney [R] Former Presidential nominee
  • Sarah Palin [R] Former Vice Presidential nominee
  • Paul Ryan [R] Representative

Source: Student Health 101 survey. 750 students responded to this question.

Students’ top leaders: dead or alive

  1. “My mother”
  2. Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. Barack Obama
  4. Jesus Christ
  5. Abraham Lincoln
  6. F.D. Roosevelt
  7. Mahatma Gandhi
  8. Nelson Mandela
  9. Ronald Reagan
  10. Bill Clinton
  11. “My father”

Source: Student Health 101 survey. 780 students responded to this question.

Which personal qualities do students rank highest for leadership?

  1. Confidence
  2. Communication
  3. Honesty
  4. Ability
  5. Organization
  6. Respect
  7. Decisions
  8. Good listener
  9. Trustworthy
  10. Empathy
  11. Patience
  12. Motivation
  13. Caring
  14. Reliable
  15. Open-minded

Student Health 101 survey, June 2014

How learning to lead can help you succeed


Get help or find out more

What is "leadership" and what makes a good leader?: Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Leadership characteristics: University of Oregon

Komives, S.R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T.R. (2013). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wagner, W. & Ostick, D.T. (2013). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. [Student workbook.] San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Maxwell, J.C. (2007). The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Neson.

Shankman, M.L. & Allen, S.J. (2008). Emotionally intelligent leadership: A guide for college students. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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The job prob: Forecasting your future in the job market

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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How can you maximize your career prospects in our fast-evolving professional world? How can you use your time at college to position yourself for the job market you’ll face after graduation? The Job Prob, our monthly series, guides you through the steps.

IN THIS ISSUE
How is the professional world treating new graduates, anyway? What can you expect?

NEXT MONTH
Leadership skills: What they’re worth to employers, and how to get them.

Rain or shine?

We’ve all heard the reports of rising unemployment, slow job growth, and a bleak job outlook for recent graduates. The net worth of young adults has declined in the last thirty years, according to the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research organization. This forecast has been unsettling to college students who are banking on landing that perfect (or at least decent) job after they graduate.

But your job prospects are brighter than you might have realized. While some occupational prospects continue to decline, the overall job market is looking up—especially for recent college graduates.

Students can use their college years strategically, acquiring the skill sets, practical experience, and networks that will position them for success in their careers.

To capitalize on this pick-up in employment prospects, use your college years strategically.

The full list of occupations with the fastest job growth

Increasing opportunities

Field Specialties Median salary range Prospects
Engineering* Petroleum, aerospace, computer, chemical, mechanical, civil $62,100–95,300 Very good
Health care** Registered nursing, home health aides $31,150–90,930 Very good
Construction* Electricians, insulators, bricklayers $29,670–39,170 Good
Education** Childcare workers, teachers $19,510–53,400 Fair
Food services** Cooks, fast-food workers $18,260–20,030 Fair

Sources
* https://www.naceweb.org/s04162014/top-paid-majors-class-of-2014.aspx?land-salres-lp-1-spot-tpaid-05092014
** https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_104.htm

Diminishing opportunities

Field Specialties Median salary range Prospects
Woodworking** Model makers, pattern makers $28,470–31,510 Very poor
Photography** Process workers, processing machine operators $19,500–23,280 Very poor
Textile** Machine setters and operators $21,620–24,290 Very poor
Broadcast journalism** Reporters, correspondents, news analysts $35,870–55,380 Poor
Agriculture** Ranchers, farmers $69,300 Poor
Postal services** Mail carriers $53,100 Very Poor

Sources
**https://www.bls.gov/ooh/

Mostly sunny

Nineteen of the 30 occupations that are projected to grow the fastest in the next eight years require postsecondary education, according to the US Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The employment scene for new graduates looks good,” says Tiffany Johnson, associate director of career services at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

In addition, hiring is picking up overall.  The class of 2014 will benefit from an eight percent increase in hiring over last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Of the 20 fastest-growing occupations, 70 percent are in a health-related field—in part because our population is aging—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is good news for graduates in the sciences and health-care fields. Other growth industries include government, finance, insurance, real estate, and retail trade, according to NACE.

In case of a rainy day

There is rough weather ahead for certain occupations. Jobs in fields such as agriculture, postal services, photography, and broadcast journalism—where technological advances have displaced workers—are declining significantly.

Your academic résumé

Students who are not majoring in hot fields can round out their skill set and improve their marketability through strategic choice of courses. “If you are a liberal arts major, you should absolutely follow your passions. That said, even though you might not love business or accounting or marketing, it’s valuable to have a course or two that at least exposes you to a different kind of language. You’re in a risk-free environment: Why not take the opportunity to learn something new and challenge yourself?” says Nicolette Sherman, vice president responsible for human resources, at Sanofi North America, a leading healthcare company.

Practical experience and initiative

Employers are looking for candidates with practical experience, such as internships. They also value graduates who have developed their leadership and communication skills, or participated in international exchanges that demonstrate cross-cultural awareness.

“When I look at resumes I’m interested in how savvy people have been about how they invested their discretionary efforts,” says Ms. Sherman. “You’ve got to be able to show you’re going to take the initiative, that you have drive and passion, and you are motivated by your interests.”

Follow The Job Prob for:

  • Strategic choice of courses
  • Developing leadership skills
  • Practical experience
  • Building your network
  • Revitalizing your resume
  • Leveraging your online profile
  • The job hunt

Top 5 growing fields

  • Engineering
  • Health care
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Food services
Forecasting your future in the job market


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