Three keys to success after college

Success, both during and after college, is the goal of nearly every college freshman. It is widely understood that a good college performance can open doors to jobs and further schooling. Few students, however, are clear about what this actually means.

Students dramatically improve their chances for greater success when they excel in three areas: academics, participation and preparation for jobs or grad school.

These things work together like the legs of a three-legged stool. When all three are strong, they support a suitable seat. However, if any leg is weak or of a different length, it can render the entire seat ineffective. Likewise, students who devote a strong effort in each of the above areas will attract more positive attention and have more success in achieving their goals.

Just as consumers aren't interested in a crooked school, few employers or graduate schools seek out prospective members who are weak and unbalanced coming out of college.

Most students understand the importance of grades - the most easily evaluated indication of student's college performance, and therefore expertise in their field. Higher grades attract more attention from employers and graduate schools.

The best employers and graduate schools have minimum grade requirements, necessitating grades at or above these requirements for consideration. Thus, achieving the best grades possible is often a prerequisite for success.

Of course, most employers are not interested in grades alone, a broader range of capabilities prove integral to the job process. Such skills are conceived in students by participation in campus, work and community activities. Students increase their appeal to employers and graduate schools when they have an extensive resume of diverse skills and accomplishments outside the classroom.

Every employer and graduate school puts stock in an applicant's leadership, communication and personal skills. They search for candidates who are self-confident, accept responsibility, solve problems and effectively manage their assignments. Students who have made an on-going effort to get involved in extra-curricular activities will obtain the experiences that employers and graduate schools seek.

An effective job search also requires an extraordinary amount of preparation. The senior year job search has its roots in freshman year. Since most students will not be chased by employers and graduate schools, students will have to do some chasing of their own.

An effective job search begins with preparation. Students truly striving for success research and identify target employers and graduate schools, evaluate and rank them, investigate their requirements and expectations, and develop a plan to meet or exceed those requirements and expectations. These students accumulate impressive skills and accomplishments and build an impressive resume.

Students who pay early attention to these aspects of college success will have a significant advantage as they compete for employment and advanced educational opportunities.