A seismic change is occurring in higher education. Some schools are not surviving, and only the innovative are thriving. To stay competitive, schools need to prove their worth to an increasingly skeptical audience. Career services can be on the front lines of that fight. Those with the ability to meet the needs of their students and alumni at scale have the competitive advantage.
Our team at Switchboard has talked to a lot of career services professionals. They have all one thing in common: they’re busy. There are too many students and alumni to help and too little time. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that, on average, one career services counselor serves over 800 students, nevermind the support offered to alumni.
Years ago, it became clear that no matter how many one-on-one meetings you have or events you host, there’s no way that traditional methods can help all the students and alumni who need it at scale. The math doesn’t pencil out.
One-on-one meetings over Skype can take place remotely, but they’re still one-on-one. Virtual networking events can bring people together from across the globe without having to fly everyone back to campus, but they aren’t any larger than in-person schmoozes. And mentorship platforms can facilitate more connections, but doing so takes a tremendous amount of staff time.
We’ve learned valuable lessons from this “first generation” of digital career services tools. Too often the technology replicates in the digital realm the same challenges we face in the physical one. These tools have conquered distance, but they haven’t solved the problem of scale. And that means thousands of students and alumni who need help are still going without it.