If you ask most students and their parents what they expect from their college investment, you will probably get the answer: “a job and a ticket to the good life.” While this is certainly an expectation of a college, there are other outcomes that you should expect from your college investment.
A very important outcome from a college investment is the PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT you will go through. You will acquire many of the traits that professionals are expected to have no matter the field of student you select. These developmental areas are described in the section Preparing for a Career. You will need a mentor and a major that stresses professional development if you are to achieve this outcome from your educational investment. Unfortunately few educational programs put any attention on the professional development of their students. This is especially true when classes are taught in large enrollment sections, advising is primarily focused on course planning, and faculty have limited engagement with students.
Another return on your college investment is the NETWORK you develop. Think of classmates, professors, and alumni as all potential network members. Your network will be an incredible resource in your career. There is a complete section on this website for Developing a Network. You need to consider how strong your candidate schools are in helping you develop a network.
The PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE you gain while in college will be a major return on your college investment. Students who graduate with experience in their chosen career field will have a major advantage over other students without this experience. You should check out the programs your candidate schools have to support students in obtaining experience. A good question to ask is how many students have career experience prior to graduation.
The MULTI-CULTURAL OPPORTUNITIES on a college campus can be invaluable to you as the world economy develops. Opportunities to get to know students from other countries and to understand their culture is a benefit from a college experience that is rarely available in any other way. You will want to check out the student population at your candidate schools to see whether these multi cultural experiences will be available.
If you are to make the most from your college experience, you should be able to say that you have achieved the following returns from your investment
■ You have grown as a professional under the development of a mentor
■ You have developed a strong network
■ You have experience in your chosen career field prior to graduation
■ You have developed a multi cultural understanding from friends in college.
When you consider schools, think of the opportunities to gain these returns from your college investment. .