Where does my diploma get me?

In Kurt Vonnegut’s Piano Player, the only people with white-collar jobs in the future are those with PhDs. When my generation went through public school, the pop-phrase was, “Nowadays, you can’t get a job flipping burgers without a high school diploma.” Today, it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to assume that we’ll be telling our children the same thing about a bachelor’s degree.

Now, college degrees are minted like currency – increasing the competition for soon to be college graduates. It is no longer enough for Sam Houston State University to educate and inspire its students, but now, to groom them for when they leave these ivory towers.

Placement after college is especially pertinent to me, as I graduate this fall. It is important to all Sam Houston students – freshmen through seniors – to get as far with their diplomas as possible.

This week I spoke with representatives from Career Services and the Sam Center, trying to discover what’s provided here.

Career Counselor Rachel Phelps, from Career Services, told me the best tools available for career bound students are the multiple job fairs/workshops and the program “Jobs 4 Kats.”

The workshops and job fairs are ways for students to meet potential employers, improve their resumes and learn about job offer/salary evaluations. These are opportunities that help job seekers get their ‘foot in the door’. Jobs 4 Kats is a free online program that helps link students with job listings across Texas. It also helps students look for part time jobs on and off campus.

Phelps went on to say that all events and services are free not only to students, but also alumni of Sam Houston.

For students hoping to go on to graduate school, the Sam Center offers free GRE/GMAT prep courses once or twice a semester. Also, the summer of 2008 was the first time they offered LSAT prep, and they have plans for more in the future.

Dr. Bernice Strauss, director of academic support programs, was passionate about the program’s philosophy, “Access to grad schools anywhere for our students at Sam.” She admitted that the program is in its infancy, but will grow when the demand for these prep courses grows.

These services offered to students and alumni are free of charge and are invaluable to our university. In order for SHSU to move beyond “That College Dan Rather came from,” every student here needs to strive to get as far as they can. Rather than leaving empty seats for job/teacher fairs, there should be a waiting list. Instead of leaving the graduate exam prep courses accommodating around 600 students/alumni a year, the Sam Center should be struggling to find more professors to meet the overwhelming demand.

It is obvious that our university is in a state of transition and expansion. We are erecting new buildings, increasing our admission requirements and throwing up new apartments for the swelling student population. As Sam Houston grows, so too should the ambition of its students.

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