University forms taskforce to address post-graduate employment rates

New taskforce comes up with a plan to integrate career preparedness into the classroom.

Annah Pritchett, Writer

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The difficult transition from earning a degree to using it in the post-graduate world is an obstacle that graduating seniors have run up against for years.

FROM DEGREE TO POST-GRADUATE WORLD 

Biola graduate and current Talbot School of Theology student Chad Duarte said that, while he knew graduate school was his next step, he found it initially difficult to conceptualize the practical application of his degree after school.

“My education was extremely useful, but I just didn’t know what to do with my degree; I feel like that might be the case with a lot of people,” said Duarte, who was a biblical studies major.. “I think the biggest thing is finding a mentor or someone that can develop you because then you really know what you’re getting yourself into.”

Duarte’s is a common struggle seen across Biola’s campus, so much so that the university has taken intentional steps to address the issue through a new task force specifically assigned to achieve aspiration number four out of the seven aspirations in Biola’s university plan.

CULTIVATING COMPETENT GRADUATES 

The university plan website states that the goal of aspiration four is to cultivate competent and competitive graduates.

Mark Matthes, director of University Career Initiatives and Assessment, served as chair on the task force to fashion a plan that would answer the question of post-graduate employment. The plan for how to integrate career preparedness into the classroom will be presented to President Barry Corey and the President's Advisory Council for consideration on May 15.

“Five years ago the parent council expressed their desire to see greater emphasis on career preparation for our students. Since then, my office has collaborated with the Career Development Center to inform parents of the resources available to students, as well as continue to promote the need for more opportunities early on in a student’s Biola career,” said director of parent relations Colleen Heykoop, who serves on the task force.

The initiative coincides with White House efforts to provide better aid to colleges that produce career-ready graduates. Last year, President Barack Obama partnered with the Education Department to begin development on a rating system entitled the College Scorecard, which can be found on the White House website. This website will rate colleges based on variables such as student employment rates, tuition costs and loan default rate.

Obama plans to seek legislation in 2018 that will allow the College Scorecard to be used as a measuring device to allocate government financial aid to schools based on their scores on the website, according to a fact sheet from the press secretary’s office.

“I definitely don’t think we are where we should be. I would say that many Christian schools aren’t where they should be,” Matthes said.
        
As the College Scorecard spends the next two years gathering information on different schools across the nation, Biola’s newest task force will be doing intentional work to get their students where they need to be before graduation.

“Our desire is to motivate students, even push them out of their comfort zone to take on experiences that will make them prepared for their future career,” Heykoop said.