Don’t Let the College Admissions Scandal Ruin Hiring College Students

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Last month, the news broke that a group of wealthy parents had been paying extravagant sums of money to cheat the college application system and get their children into top schools. The scandal and the surrounding sense of entitlement have some employers questioning whether a college degree is still a good signifier that a young person would be a good employee.

Yes, this story has revealed some unscrupulous people involved in college admission, but that doesn’t mean you should lose your trust in colleges and their abilities to prepare students for the workforce. In fact, deciding not to recruit college students can hurt your organization.

Here are four reasons you should still value college degrees:

1. This is not common.

Let’s be clear: the 50 people charged in this scandal were in the wrong. Parents and university employees broke laws to bypass the system. But this situation is not the norm. It’s 50 people out of the hundreds of thousands involved with college admissions.

For 99.9 percent of college students, they have to prove their merits to get into college. College applications look at a variety of factors just for this reason. The decision isn’t made solely on test scores or extracurriculars, and applicants have to show a range of competencies to earn a spot.

2. It’s really about the journey.

When college students begin looking for a job, they are assessed based on their performance, just like everyone else. It doesn’t matter how they got into a college if they don’t get the grades and skills employers need, they won’t be hired. This is what college is about, learning and continuing to grow and the hiring process determines if grads meet expectations.

If you’re worried that unqualified or undeserving college students are going to end up at your company, revisit your hiring process. Look at the screens you use and see how they might be allowing entitlement. For instance, are you actively recruiting college students from lower income backgrounds? Do you have a diversity and inclusion policy in place? These strategies will give you confidence that the graduates you hired earned their education.

3. It’s not fair to college students who earned their spots.

When employers doubt the quality of a few graduates’ qualifications, and by extension all colleges’ qualifications, it hurts hard-working students. A fantastically qualified graduate, won’t get fair consideration if you develop a bias against higher education.

Instead of being wary of graduates of certain schools, assess each candidate on an individual basis. Give each graduate a fair chance to shine and show all they have accomplished. One way to do this is by asking specific questions during the interview. See how young job seekers have learned the importance of hard work. Candidates who had to prove they deserve a chance will have detailed stories about how they dealt with challenges on their own.

4. Young talent is highly-valuable to organizations.

For the most part, all companies benefit from having an infusion of fresh blood. It improves innovation and brings new perspectives that lead to better problem-solving. If you become more cautious about younger talent and their qualifications, your organization will stagnate.

During the hiring process, pose a common problem in your company to college graduates and see what they have to say about it. This will give you an idea of how they think and how qualified they are. Encourage them to offer suggestions so you can begin to imagine what they can add to your company.

The college admissions scandal was shocking. There’s no doubt about it. But employers can’t allow it to shake their faith in the quality and importance of a college education. College students work hard to get into school and then continue to prove themselves. After graduating, they deserve fair consideration during their job search.

Want more tips on hiring college students? Check out our article here!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.