The first year at Hillsdale can be overwhelming as students adjust to challenging academic standards, get connected on campus, and adapt to their new life. Above all, we hope that freshman students are learning to actively engage in ideas and conversations in the classroom and submitting themselves wholeheartedly to this transformative center of Hillsdale life. But we also know that students are balancing numerous other priorities, and we want to make preparation for their future one of them. At Hillsdale, we are not exclusively concerned with securing a job or earning a certain wage, but also with helping students navigate towards a future that connects with their profound Hillsdale education and gives them purpose and fulfillment in the world. Every student develops different passions, joys, curiosities, and skills over their college years, so much of our role is to help students reflect meaningfully on who they are. For freshmen eager to begin thinking about the future, we offer a host of resources, events, and support to assist them.
Here are a few ways you can team up with us to support your student in thinking about the future:
- Encourage your student’s exploration of new interests and areas of study, and remember that Hillsdale’s core, while building in an intentionally broad foundation, gives students ample time to settle into an academic direction a bit later in their undergraduate career.
- Reflect with your student about the courses and activities he or she is enjoying. Students are constantly discovering new things about themselves through college life. Your willingness to listen and be a sounding board will keep you in the loop and help provide your student with the important opportunity for self-reflection.
- Gently remind your student of his or her first priority: the classroom. At the same time, join us in encouraging meaningful extracurricular involvement, which enriches the Hillsdale experience and starts to build a resume. When students are struggling to balance everything, we urge them to consider joining only one extracurricular involvement during the first semester, giving them time to focus on academics until they have the their load a bit more under their belts.
- Encourage your student to build relationships with faculty and staff they trust, who are likely to become mentors and could help support planning for the future in the coming years. Your student doesn’t need a concrete reason or desperate question to pursue such conversations, but is welcome to make a habit of discussing passions, strengths, and academic life with college staff.
- Let your student know how much confidence you have in his or her unique strengths and abilities. Freshman year can be overwhelming and at times discouraging, and students need the perspective of those who know and love them to remind them what they’re capable of.
- Encourage your student to visit Career Services. We love to sit and converse with students about their passions or ideas for the future, and we can offer practical help like finding summer jobs or building a starter resume.
- If your student is especially eager to get started on future plans, encourage attendance at Career Services events, which are hosted on a variety of topics throughout the year. It’s never too early to begin gaining insight and perspective on how to navigate towards the next steps.
- Whenever possible, be active in your child’s journey, but also willing to let your student be independent and exploratory—this can be a difficult balance for both parents and students, but it is an important one!
This is a great time for settling in and beginning to establish a vision for the years to come, both in college and beyond. Though the year will no doubt bring its own new challenges, your student has probably adjusted to the expectations of academic life and adapted to a new rhythm. During sophomore year, we encourage students to begin thinking more concretely about equipping themselves for the future, and we provide a variety of means for help along the way.
Here are a few ways you can team up with us to support your student as he or she thinks more actively about the future:
- Don’t push your student to settle on a major if he or she doesn’t seem ready, but continue to engage him or her in conversation about possible directions. Students are encouraged to declare a major by the end of sophomore year, but technically they can extend their decision into junior year if they need more time. Having time to make the best possible decision gives students maximum opportunity to explore passions and allows them to choose a major after undergoing some academic maturity.
- When your student declares a major, encourage seeking out a new academic advisor in his or her specific department. This advisor can coach your child more closely through the process of choosing a future path in that specific discipline.
- Encourage your student to consider campus employment. This is a great way to gain work experience and build a professional resume. Though your student no doubt already has a lot to juggle, many students find that a bit of scheduled work helps them stay more structured and accomplish other tasks more effectively.
- If you know someone in your student’s potential field, consider setting up an informal meeting or job shadowing opportunity, which can both be extremely valuable at this stage.
- Discuss the possibility of an internship with your student. For those uncertain of their future direction, summer internships can be great trial runs that leave plenty of time to change directions later if the experience is not enjoyable. For students relatively set in their career paths, relevant internships are a great way to set apart a future job application. Remember that internships may be unpaid or be in a distant location. Be sure to discuss your financial position and your student’s expectations before a commitment is made.
- If your student is eager to get a head start in the job search, encourage them to plug into resources like LinkedIn, Handshake, and CareerShift to begin networking with alumni and gaining exposure to potential job opportunities. The Career Services Office is happy to assist in this process.
- Encourage your student to visit Career Services to discuss any ideas, questions, or needs with our office staff. Sophomores are also welcome to attend Career Services events hosted on a variety of topics throughout the year. This is a great time to find out what’s offered and ask some preliminary questions that can make the upcoming years a lot less overwhelming.
Perhaps most importantly, recognize that your student is undergoing a very unique education that is likely creating passions and virtues that set them apart from the typical career-driven world. While we believe this education will set your student up for incredible success and distinction in any field, he or she may be struggling to identify what kind of future is fitting, fulfilling, and meaningfully connected to Classical Liberal Education. Be patient, and try not to discourage the important work taking place in your student’s mind and soul by too aggressively pushing practical concerns.
This is a crucial year for students to formalize their academic direction and begin to concretely prepare for post-Hillsdale plans as senior year lies just around the bend. Our office is eager to help students prepare for the upcoming process of job searching, graduate school searching, or making choices about their life after graduation. Many options exist for gaining experience: internships, cooperative education programs, summer jobs, on campus employment, volunteer options, and more.
Here are a few ways you can team up with us to support your student as he or she engages more actively in planning for the future:
- Urge your student to evaluate his or her extracurricular activities, and to consider how they might contribute to possible future plans. This is a good year to redirect, renew, or initiate involvements that connect purposefully to students’ post-Hillsdale life and strengthen their resumes. Encourage your student to branch out into new areas (Have they volunteered? Do they have work experience?) as well as to look for leadership opportunities on campus.
- The upcoming summer is one of the most crucial times for job preparation. Encourage your student to seek out an internship or summer employment that relates to his or her field of interest, and point them towards Career Services for assistance in securing such an opportunity. Remember that internships may be unpaid or be in a distant location. Be sure to discuss your financial position and your student’s expectations before a commitment is made.
- If your student is considering graduate school, this is an important year to discuss options with faculty and devise a list of target schools. Test preparation and formal testing are also a common part of junior year, and the Career Services office can offer resources and support in this process. Students should begin drafting a resume and thinking about a personal statement, and our office offers help with brainstorming, advising, and editing.
- Encourage your student to make regular visits to Career Services throughout the year. Our office helps with building or updating resumes, developing cover letters or personal statements, and training and practicing for interviews. This is also an important year to start attending Career Services events (if students have not already done so) to continue making connections and gaining ideas about post-Hillsdale plans.
- As always, remember that your student is shouldering a huge variety of responsibilities, and that planning for the future may not be the first thing on the priority list. Remember to show interest in and support for the important investments your child is making in the classroom, the community, and his or her relationships. Though it’s easy to forget, these things are every bit as important as career planning in the long-term health and mature development of your student!
The final stage of your student’s college career has arrived, and with it an overwhelming load of responsibilities and the capstone stage in numerous meaningful investments. Senior year means being pulled in a million directions and trying to suck the marrow out of all of them. Certainly, decisions about the future loom near the top of the list. Ideally, your student has been thinking and working over the past three years to help reduce some of the stress of future planning, but the Career Services Office works actively to help students of all interests and in all stages make their meaningful vision of the future a reality. While we aim to equip students for success and distinction in their fields, we also recognize that many students may feel attracted to unique post-graduation paths or may still feel torn about their long-term goals; we want to encourage students to pursue next steps that are meaningfully connected with the transformative education they have received at Hillsdale, and we count it a success whenever students feel purposeful about where they are headed next.
Here are a few ways you can team up with us to support your student as he or she goes through the final process of determining post-Hillsdale plans:
- More than ever before, encourage your student to come by Career Services regularly with any kind of need or request. We want to do everything we can to help support and equip them through job searching, designing resumes and cover letters, practicing interviews, selecting references, and conversing about the future. There are numerous Career Services events offered throughout the year aimed at providing students with connections, job opportunities, and all sorts of practical tools to aid them, so students should take advantage of as many of these as interest them.
- Active job searching (or graduate school application, etc.) is a huge part of this year, and no one can actually go through the process except students themselves. But this can be daunting, so be as encouraging as possible. If you can do so without being frustrating, send along information or options relevant to your student’s interests that might spark ideas or opportunities.
- Be a sounding board as your student goes through the application process; help think through pros and cons, weigh advantages, and contemplate what might be must fulfilling and appropriate. If your child is set on one single outcome, encourage casting wide nets during the application process so your student has multiple options come decision time.
- Remember that the next step of your student’s life is only that—a next step. Don’t pressure your student to find the answer to the rest of their life right now. In fact, the first few years can be a great time to build some experience and try a variety of things before settling into a longer-term decision. If anything, encourage your student to remember that he or she is not stuck in this next step, and that there is ample time to try other things if this first choice doesn’t end up feeling like the right one.
- Keep a watchful eye on your student’s mental, physical, and emotional health. This year is incredibly overwhelming, and students can struggle with feeling overburdened by their responsibilities and emotional about the changes to come. If you sense your student is feeling this pressure, encourage connection with professors, staff, college counselors, friends, and Career Services to help ease the load and offer support. If you become seriously concerned, never hesitate to contact the Dean’s Office to speak with them about your child’s health.