Carthage College Will Begin Mandating Career Training In Fall

More Liberal Arts Schools Helping Students Bridge Gap To Workforce

Carthage College
Carthage College. Photo courtesy of Carthage College

Carthage College in Kenosha is using a $15 million gift to develop a career education program for incoming freshman beginning this fall.

The money was originally going to be used to build a new career center on campus, but Carthage President John Swallow believes mandating students complete four years of experiential education will give them the skills needed to secure employment after graduation.

“There is more and more concern on the part of prospective students and families that the education they receive is going to be connected to their ability to be employed and their ability to live a successful life both personally and professionally,” Swallow said. “I’m excited with the fact that we can do something for students that is also good for the region and the state.”

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John Swallow, president of Carthage College. Photo courtesy of Carthage College

Across the country, more liberal arts colleges are developing career-oriented programs to help graduates enter the job market.

Lawrence University in Appleton recently upgraded its career support for students, including programming for students starting their first year on campus.

According to the most recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, released in December, 57.8 percent of the class of 2017 had found full-time employment. Among these graduates, 65 percent with a business degree were in full-time employment compared with 36.1 percent with a history degree and 41 percent with an English degree.

The Carthage program, to be called, Aspire, will offer four components:

  1. Workplace learning.
  2. Specific career preparation such as personality assessment, job search strategies and interviewing skills.
  3. Creativity and entrepreneurship development.
  4. Leadership and organizational skills developments.

The current plan is for all students, beginning with the class of 2023, to complete three of the four components, Swallow said. But the details are still being worked out.

“As we develop the program, we need to consider how much control, or active guidance, we assert over structuring our students’ choices,” he said.

Carthage has always offered this type of development for students, but many have not taken advantage of the opportunity, Swallow said.

According to a survey of Carthage students conducted last year by the Center for Market & Opinion Research, 71 percent reported having given a lot of thought to their plans after graduation. Less than half of the students surveyed said they had visited career services.

The survey also found that nearly 50 percent of alumni wished they had more career preparation while at Carthage, Swallow said.

Swallow, who is the vice chairman of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, said he will be working with that business organization and business groups in Racine, Milwaukee and beyond so Carthage students are able to gain real-world experience while in school.

“I’m excited about the program’s two-part nature,” Swallow said. “One that is great for students, great for recruitment and great for development. And on the other hand, is great for our region.”