Campus Jobs as Graduate Assistantships Lead to Better Outcomes

One of the foremost thinkers in how we can overhaul the graduate school experience to address career planning is Leonard Cassuto. In addition to his excellent book The Graduate School Mess (which should be required reading for anyone interested in the topic), he also writes a series for the Chronicle of Higher Education called the Graduate Adviser. His latest post, “Outcomes-based Graduate School: The Humanities Edition” illustrates how one university – Lehigh – tackled overhauling its graduate curriculum in English.

There’s several things to note in how they went about this.

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Why Higher Ed Needs to Invest More in Staff Professional Development

One of the prevailing paradigms in higher ed these days is student success. Cynics decry it as a framework devoid of meaning. After all, haven’t all of us in higher ed existed to ensure student success at all times? As in: how is this “new” or advancing the field? But more narrowly constructed, many universities, colleges, and community colleges frame their missions and strategic plans around it.

Student success can mean many things. It can entail access – ensuring that education remains available to all to the degree possible. It can include breaking down scheduling and financial barriers so students are able to complete their programs and graduate to a rewarding career. And it can mean that institutions provide services for its increasingly diverse students, such as food insecure students, first generation students, etc.

But what does your higher ed institution do for career success for its staff? Anything?

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An Action Item for your Grad School

It’s taken me only a month (!) but I’m finally catching up on stuff here (my side gig) after the holidays and the resulting backlog at my real job. One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how to scale alt-ac guidance.

Based on my own experience and those of my clients, I’m obviously biased towards the value of tailoring career guidance to the individual. But I also am against a pay-to-play approach, in which only those with means can access assistance. (Hence, this whole blog thing I have here! 🙂 )

Who Can Help Grad Students at Scale?

So then, the only way I can see to scale career guidance is to situate it within the grad school context. For graduate schools to bear the burden of providing career guidance – beyond the undergrad “how to write a resume” basics or all-purpose career fairs. Even if the scaling is just offering an advanced version of how to write a resume or hosting career fairs with employers who are looking to fill knowledge-based or highly-skilled positions…that would still at least be a start.

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