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5 Reasons Students Are Too Busy to Visit the Career Center

Introducing Career Threads, a micro-blog series that offers quick insights into trending topics in career services, jointly composed by the Consulting Team at The Career Leadership Collective, out of their experiences interacting with hundreds of career professionals and senior university leaders.

Title image: 5 Reasons Why Students Are Too Busy to Visit the Career Center

Anyone who is student-facing in the career center can describe the thrill of having an advising meeting with a student and helping them move the needle on their career exploration or job/internship search. So much serotonin! Because we see the immediate impact of our work in one-on-one advising, we generally center this service in our outreach to students. This is a mistake for so many reasons. Firstly, most of us don't have the staff to support EVERY student visiting our office. In fact, the median ratio of students to career services staff sits at 1,583:1 nationally.

Even if we did have the staff to support every student, traditional business hours services don't meet the needs of all students. Here are five reasons students might be too busy to visit the career center!

The rising cost of education means that more and more students work more hours. A 2020 study showed that 40% of full-time students were employed.  10% for 35+ hours/week,  	 15% between 20 to 34 hours,	 9% 10 - 19 hours 3% less than 10 hours. Many students have familial responsibilities. Eleven percent of the 53 million caregivers in the United States are students. Student caregivers provide an average of 21.6 hours of care per week. Students have significant academic workloads. Finals and midterms accounted for the top source of stress for 31% of U.S. students. Class and workload were third at 23%. Homework placed fourth at 13%. The definition of credit hour adopted by the Department of Education is that students should spend approximately 2–3 hours on outside-of-class work for each credit hour or hour spent in the classroom. Therefore, a student taking five 3-credit classes spends 15 hours each week in class and should be spending 30 hours on work outside of class, or 45 hours/week total. Students are “extremely” online. More than half of Gen Zers spend four or more hours on social media every day, per a new Morning Consult survey. They are tired! A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that college students get an average of 6.9 hours of sleep per night and that most of their homework is done in the late evening hours.

Most of these facts are likely not a surprise, but they lead to the question, why haven’t we transformed our services more aggressively to offer access to meaningful career education? Change is hard and can be expensive, so here are three scalable ways to mitigate these issues:

  1. Train student employee managers. If your campus has a robust student-employee or work-study population, training managers on career pathway mapping will connect students to career education during their work hours.

  2. Build out 24/7 digital resources. This one is a no-brainer. A study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 70% of students would use career services more often if they were available 24/7.

  3. Offer an asynchronous service! One of the institutions we worked with discovered that their asynchronous resume review service was most often accessed between 1 and 4 in the morning, and the majority of students who utilized the service selected "too busy" as the answer to why they chose this service.


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