Digital Exclusive: Closing in on graduation, what’s next?

Digital Exclusive

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Plenty of students in our region, state and nation are looking forward to graduation — but what comes next?

The National Center for Education statistics says that moving from high school to any form of higher education increases your likelihood of getting employed by at least 72%. It’s the time spent in college and technical classrooms that prepare you for the next step.

Carol Bosak is the director of career services at Wilkes University and says there are resources made available to students from their first semester to beyond graduation, but it’s more guidance than anything.

“When students leave, we want them to leave feeling prepared,” said Bosak. “In general our students do very well and the ones, I think, that are more thoughtful and aren’t waiting until the day before graduation to say ‘oh gosh, I’d better do a resume. Hopefully we have enough programs and classes in place so they know that’s not the thing to do.”

Both Wilkes and the University of Scranton have what the academic world considers a high ‘success rate.’

Christina Whitney is the director of the career services center at the University of Scranton — where its most recent survey indicates a 99% success rate within six months of graduation — but what are those graduates are up to?

“A student indicates what it is they are hoping to attain and then, do they actually attain that goal?,” asked Whitney. “It could be continued education, it could be full-time employment, part-time employment or it could be backpacking through Europe.”

Both schools put out surveys to alumni and say more than a majority of job seekers are hitting their mark out of the classroom, but universities like Wilkes and Scranton are not for everyone. It all depends on what you’re good at and how you can make a living.

The demand for trade and technical school graduates is growing.

Lori Sekelski is the assistant director at Empire Beauty School in Moosic. The chain of schools across the region is tailored to training and promoting their students for immediate success with their internal posting portal, beautycareer.com.

“There’s always work. That’s the nice part about it. Within the first week the students get registered,” she added. “As they move through their education, they’ll start building a portfolio.”

Different businesses with varying needs and talents partner with the beauty schools to help fill needs and employment.

It’s become a bit of the ‘best problem to have’ for technical schools like Johnson College.

“When they come in and speak with me, we immediately talk about the plan for after graduation,” said career services manager Dana Heatley. “That’s work placement and internships.”

Johnson has been churning out technically proficient graduates for more than a century and thanks to their partnerships with local industry, they often find themselves short of graduates for the demand. It makes for a clear focus during their time in labs and classrooms.

“We’re all about having students begin with the end in mind when they start here,” added school president and CEO Dr. Katie Leonard. “Knowing that within two years or less they’re going to have a job in their field of study.”

There’s a middle ground between universities and tech schools that’s sometimes overlooked, but growing in popularity.

Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport serves central Pennsylvania in an overlapping capacity.

“I would want to say they we’re the best kind of combination because you can get the same type of degrees and education that you can get at a traditional state school or liberal arts university,” said Penn College’s career services director Shelley Moore. “That’s paired with the very technical, high-intensity fields that are needed in the workforce.”

Community colleges are often less of a financial burden and Luzerne County Community College says they’re seeing success with graduates of all backgrounds.

“57% of those who reported that they were employed in our most recent graduate survey are earning anywhere between $40,000 and $60,000 a year,” said vice president of enrollment and student affairs at LCCC, Rosana Reyes. “We are very proud, with an associate’s degree, to see so many of our students have such gainful employment.”

One thing that’s common across the board is that even beyond graduation, these schools are still resources after you take off the cap and gown. Higher education doesn’t want you to just stay in school to get you in the right place. They want you to stay in touch.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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