How do you choose your college major? And how does it connect, after graduation, to a career?
Minnesota’s Carleton College has taken a unique approach to helping their students and graduates turn a liberal arts education into the career that’s right for them: the Carleton College Pathways program. Centered on the online Pathways hub, this innovative resource offers a treasure trove of information on just where each of Carleton’s degrees can take you, backed with real-life data from Carleton’s tight-knit alumni network.
The Pathways program is founded on the recognition that a college degree isn’t just a goal, but a tool each student uses differently after graduation. The interactive Pathways graphics show the variety of Carleton alumni and how they’ve used their degrees—and which career paths are more common than others.
Clicking on the intuitive career charts shows that an economics degree can lead into a career as a housing advocate, but is more likely to open doors in finance, and that while Carleton’s philosophy grads mostly work as university professors, it’s a program that’s also a common pipeline to law school. Despite the stereotypes, just as many Carleton English graduates work in business and marketing as in education, and a History degree can give students the foundation to succeed at everything from nursing to the judiciary.
As well as giving each student the data to connect today’s classes with the working world, Pathways offers a full set of resources to chart that course and develop specialties within one’s major. Organized by program of study, each of Carleton’s Pathway hubs offer advice on potential courses to take, events and seminars in the field, organized off-campus learning opportunities, study-abroad programs, recommended internships and job sites to best position for post-college goals—and, most vitally, the Carleton alumni network.
Carleton College is known for its well-connected and active alumni community, and the Pathways program offers that expertise and mentorship to students before they graduate. Its comprehensive directory of Carleton alumni volunteer mentors spans six continents and touches every current program of study, allowing students to build contacts, ask for practical career advice, and be flexible to changing industry conditions even while still earning their degrees.
While still a new feature of the Carleton College learning landscape, the Pathways program is showing results: LinkedIn’s alumni data tool, which pulls from LinkedIn profiles around the world to build the world’s largest, most comprehensive alumni database, shows how Carleton graduates are diversifying compared to one of its closest neighbors, the University of Minnesota.
While there’s a great deal of overlap in the careers Carleton and University of Minnesota graduates choose, Carleton graduates are taking their degrees into proportionately more fields, showing more flexibility, and relying less on traditional career pipelines—a valuable skill in a working world where Forbes has called changing jobs every 4.4 years “the new normal.”
Carleton graduates are likely to earn more in those fields, too: According to both Payscale.com, the median starting salary for both Carleton College and University of Minnesota alumni is around $46,000, but while University of Minnesota grads will see their salaries rise to a median $84,200 by mid-career, Carleton alumni are reaching a median mid-career annual pay of $103,000.
LinkedIn’s alumni data, again, has a clue as to why: When it comes to reported skill sets, Carleton alumni are emphasizing the flexible, widely applicable analytical skills that matter in any industry—and equip students and graduates for success, no matter where their pathway takes them.
To learn more by visiting the Carleton College Pathways program web page.