How Middle Tennessee State University Prepares Students for Gainful Employment Prior to Graduation

How do you set your students up for success in the employment arena not just after graduation, but before they graduate?

On this episode of Enrollment Growth Univesity, we got the chance to chat with Dr. Colby Jubenville, the Director of the Center for Student Coaching and Success at Middle Tennessee State University to talk about how to really prepare students for gainful employment prior to graduation.

The Difference Between Succeeding and Merely Graduating

The common thought is that the more education you have, or the more opportunity or the more relationships you have, the more successful you’ll be.

In reality, the greatest skill you can develop is self-assessment. The ability to truly understand yourself and who you are, what you do, and why you matter to the world. If you can articulate that, then you can build a plan and path based off those ideas.

Before you can hope to coach a student towards personal change, you have to be able to define change. That change has to come in the form of a narrative change.

If you can’t get inside their narrative and help them understand and make sense of the narrative, so that they can create a new narrative for themselves, then you can’t truly create the change you want to create for the student.

At MTSU, they’ve developed a simple process based on personal assessment and personal coaching. They’ve partnered that with narrative based coaching templates and sessions. When you marry the personal assessment and the narrative based coaching, that’s what drives the personal change.

Helping Students Create a New Narrative for Themselves

Jim Rohn said that, “The same wind blows on all of us, the wind of opportunity, the wind of failure, the wind of success. The difference in arrival is not the blowing of the wind, but the set of the sail.”

Recently at MTSU, a group of students were brought in, and the challenge was to write a compelling letter of interest, and complete the interview process in a way that got them into the school they wanted, and got the scholarship money they were hoping for as well.

At the end of a ninety minute coaching session, the students were asked what the first sentence would look like.  A student then began to talk about how easy it would be to start the letter off talking about why they chose MTSU, or their major, or how hard they’ve worked.

Instead, they chose to highlight the struggles they’d been through, and the defining moments that captured who they were, what they did, and why they mattered.

They were creating a new narrative for themselves that walked out of the struggle and into a new narrative based on their life themes.

At a Crossroads of Student Success in Higher Education

We are at a crossroads in higher education. If, as educators, we don’t bring a tremendous value to these students, they are going to look to go other places to find a way into the system that will deliver that value.

The world we live in tells kids early on that they can be anything they want, then by the age of eighteen, just tells them to get out of the house. They think, “I’ll go to college and get a job and everything will be okay.”

We know that’s not the case, especially in 2017, in the noisy, blurry, distracted world we live in.

The bottom line is that higher education is about the students. They lay their heads on their pillows at night just like the rest of us, and dream and think about ways to build a better, more sustainable future for themselves and their families.

Narrative-based coaching is just telling them the truth about who they are and what they are capable of, because so many of these students are living out a narrative that was written for them, or given to them, and it doesn’t truly fit who they are.

If we can help them write a new narrative, one that they are in control of, one that they shape, and one that fits the kind of person that they are, then we’ve done our jobs.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Dr. Colby Jubenville from the Middle Tennessee State University. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Enrollment Growth University.

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