One of the most important strategic goals at Augustana College is “preparing our students to stand out.” Our intent is to equip students with meaningful experiences and provide excellent advising that will give them with a “leg up” on the competition for graduate school and job placement. I really like the idea behind this strategic goal and believe it is something that we can do well.
However, I find myself wondering if there’s more that we can do to go beyond providing experience and actually help students stand out.
In recent days I’ve been wondering whether or not it would be wise/possible/helpful to develop a profile for our graduates to use when applying for jobs or graduate school. My vision is similar to the kinds of profiles high schools provide to colleges and universities to contextualize the applicant.
I know some will immediately dismiss this idea.
Some will say that getting a job is about connections. Others will say that the only way into grad school is a darn good transcript. Finally, some will say that such a profile will have the same fate as all of those CD’s and DVD’s high school students send along with their application for admission, which are either discarded or simply set aside in a crate.
I get it and I suspect each of the arguments highlighted above have some validity.
But, what if developing a profile helps a single one of graduates get a second look?
What if a profile helps a student stand out?
What if a profile captures the attention of just one human resources professional and that individual has a better opinion of Augustana as a result?
What if an admissions committee at a graduate school gains a better understanding of the experiences offered at Augustana and taken advantage of by the graduate?
Wouldn’t a profile be successful if it positively impacted just one of our graduates and helped the student stand out?
While I don’t know if any of the successes described above are likely or even possible, I wonder if it isn’t worth exploring further.
What might be included in a profile? How about the following?
- Distribution of degrees awarded
- Description of Capstone Project requirement and reminder that every graduate completes this sort of experience
- Data regarding critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills (comparative data where possible)
- Job and graduate school placement data for the last four years
- General information about Augustana’s distinctions
- Data about student who complete internships, study abroad or research
Maybe we should even include average debt load for our graduate in comparison to the national average?
Likewise, we might compare the proportion of our students who finish college in four years in comparison to national averages?
Would any of this make a difference to a potential employer or a graduate school admissions committee? I really don’t know.
But, I wonder if it would enable us to focus more intently on outcomes and what experiences and outcomes can help our student stand out? Furthermore, I wonder if such a resource could help our graduates think more clearly about what distinguishes them from others and how the Augustana experience is different/better than other colleges?
Are you aware of other colleges or universities that do something similar to this?
Do you have ideas about how to make such an effort successful?
If you were an employer or graduate school admissions office what would like to see on a profile? (And, if you answer with anything about US News & World Report that’s a non-answer).
Please let me know what you think of this idea. Is it time to begin marketing our graduates or equipping them with the tools to market themselves?
W. Kent Barnds a.k.a. @bowtieadmissions