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Student Loan Game Plan

Career Planning Checklist

You can take certain actions to help your college student select a career goal and maximize the likelihood of success upon graduation. Setting career goals as soon as possible will allow your student time to take all necessary actions.

Help Create Perspective

Many students delay setting career goals because they perceive the decision to carry too much weight. They believe they are deciding what they will be doing for the rest of their lives. Point out to your student:

  • Most people now have at least seven different jobs over their lifetime.
  • Many people work for years after college before they find their true calling.
  • Your student will have opportunities to change careers after college, but it is important to identify a first career at which he or she can be successful, earn enough money to live independently and fall back on if other career choices do not pan out.

Set a Deadline

Students may also choose to focus on other things rather than career goals. You can help your student focus by working with him or her to set a deadline to reach a decision. Use a checklist like the one below.

  • The student identifies two or three potential post-college careers.
  • The student researches identified careers.
    • Average starting salary
    • Probability of obtaining a job in this field
    • List of possible employers
    • Geographic location of greatest job availability
    • Work environment (inside/outside; at a desk/walking around; interacting with people/working alone; etc.)
    • Credentials required (degree level; licensing; internship or residency)
  • The student asks you to set up job-shadowing opportunities with acquaintances in these fields.
  • The student targets a career and declares a corresponding major.
  • The student develops a plan to do an internship related to this career.
  • The student develops a list of actions to take while in college to increase the likelihood of being hired.
  • The student begins an active search for employment.


Encourage your student to visit the college career placement office on campus and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at