What Kind of College is a ‘Target School’?
Unlike most education writers and college counselors I come to my work from experiences around career counselors at hundreds of colleges and universities. I believe that I have a good perspective of the schools that have had success at helping their students begin the career they want. Some of these schools are also known as Target Schools.
What is a Target School?
A Target School is a college that employers have found employees who have been valued contributors to their firms past the entry-level positions.
What colleges and universities can be Target Schools?
It depends on the talents sought by the employer and their recruiting budget. A large multi-national corporation with many locations and needs will visit schools where there is likely to be a large selection of candidates for their posted jobs. Regional firms might concentrate more on the schools that are close by. Other firms might prefer to recruit at schools where their top executives have gone.
Is “academic quality” a factor in choosing Target Schools?
For the most part, yes, when it comes to larger firms that have many needs. A manufacturing firm might need science majors, engineers and computer programmers as well as accountants and sales people. Most likely the senior professionals, especially in engineering and the sciences, have advanced degrees from universities that have the most resources in their specialty.
What types of schools do employers prefer?
I was once told by a former career services director at a large public university that larger employers often prefer to interview candidates from larger schools. Such candidates, he said, have already learned to work within a large organization. They’ve learned to take initiative without having to be led by the hand.
Another viewpoint is that smaller schools demand more of their students, especially in the first two years. It’s impossible to hide from the faculty at a smaller school, but possible not to take advantage of the help and contacts they might provide. Smaller schools often require a senior capstone project that demands inquiry and creativity. Those who seize the opportunity often find themselves in contact with prospective employers.
Is it harder to find a job if you did not attend a Target School?
Larger schools have the advantage of volume They have more qualified candidates to interview. But that means more competition for the grades required to get on the interview schedule. If you’re shopping for a college and believe that you can prevail in the face of such competition, the larger school is probably a better option. You might not get on the schedule for your “dream” employer. But you’re also more likely to have a selection of companies to interview, and hopefully field offers.
But larger schools are not the best match for everyone.
Students at liberal arts colleges are taught and advised by faculty who have doctoral degrees as well as contracts and contacts with employers. A faculty introduction to a colleague at a firm might have more clout for a student. That clout might be enough to bypass the human resource department screenings that come with highly organized on-campus recruitment programs. The career center may also have access to a database of loyal alumni who remain engaged with the school. It might also be part of a job posting network with several other colleges.
With all of this mind, how should a prospective freshman go about researching colleges?
The larger public schools and the better-endowed private research universities are often the first that come to mind when students are career oriented. However, the learning environment in these schools is not for everyone.
The best school to choose is the one that helps you to do whatever it is you want to do, but not leave you drowning in a pool of debt. That school should be your Target School.
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Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community, hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
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