Third level students – what are you doing with your time?

So we all know what third level students do all day long while at college or university – attend lectures, study in the library and have stimulating academic conversations with their classmates.  Right? But I was more interested to read in the Higher Education Authority’s (HEA) Irish Survey of Student Engagement – 2015 about what they DON’T do.  The survey attracted over 27,000 responses from 30 Universities, Institutes of Technology and various other 3rd level institutions so it wouldn’t be stretching it to say that it is a representative sample of third level students studying in Ireland today.  Lots of good information about positive student engagement but three results that surprised me were:

  • 51% of all students who completed the survey said that they have NEVER discussed their career plans with teaching staff or career advisers.
  • Only 22% of students said they had done community service or voluntary work while at third level
  • 46% of students said that they have NEVER participated in extracurricular activities; student organisations, student associations, clubs, societies, sports or student publications

Discussing Career Plans
Colleges provide careers advice services to students for FREE.  If you assume that one of the main reasons you attend university or a third level institution is to improve your employment prospects and land yourself an interesting job then not engaging with them is just plain dumb.  Many courses are now embedding career planning and  career management modules into the syllabus but if your course doesn’t do that you should get to know your college career advisers – ASAP.  If you don’t and wait until you leave college to start planning your career you will have to pay (not insubstantial) fees to someone like me to help you with your career planning. Who wants to do that?
Volunteering & Extracurricular Activities
Even accepting that a large percentage of students have a part-time job to help fund their studies it’s pretty incredible and slightly depressing that only 22% said they have volunteered and even more amazing that 46% said they never participated in extracurricular activities.  Attending third level is not just about getting the degree – participating in college activities – whether by volunteering or through extracurricular involvement adds considerably to how much you enjoy the experience. And, let’s face it, being able to list your involvement in extracurricular activities looks great on your CV and can often be the factor in deciding to shortlist you for interview.

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