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A recent poll from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that nearly two-thirds of college seniors are worried about finding a job.
Thomas College in Waterville, Maine is trying to help students land that first job. The liberal arts school guarantees a job to students who are able to keep a certain GPA, among other requirements, within six months of graduating; or else they can come back to Thomas and take classes for free, or have the college pay their student loans for a year.
Thomas Edwards, provost for Thomas College says the Guaranteed Job Placement program, or GJob, has been in place for about 10 years.
"When students come to Thomas we have them sign a contract with the college and we ask them to get a good GPA, to do an internship, and in return we're going to guarantee that they're going to get that first job right out of college," said Edwards.
Students are also required to be fiscally responsible. Students have to be in good financial standing with the school and student loan agencies.
"We generally find that 95 percent of our students find a position six months outside of their graduation date, so in the past 10 years of the program, we've only had to pay out six times," said Edwards. "And of those six times, five have been payouts in the sense that students have come back to get more education at the graduate level, often times looking to move in a different career path."
The school has about 650 undergraduate students in attendance each year, along with 400 at the graduate level and in continuing education. About 80 percent of the students come from Maine. And 40 to 50 percent of the students are in business fields, says Edwards, but a large number are in other fields like education, technology and criminal justice.
The school's career services offer a wide range of resources for students, from resume writing to interview techniques and etiquette dinners.
"We bring students in and we have them sit for a five-course meal, and we talk to them about etiquette at dining and interviews," said Edwards.
Students who don't find jobs six months after graduating are able to return and take an unlimited number of tuition-free courses for up to two years, or have the school pay for their student loans.
Surprisingly, the current recession and tough job market hasn't impacted the program says Edwards.
"There were some fears out there that we might see an uptick in the number of students that were going to claim some reimbursement of the program. We really haven't seen that. I think it's a factor both of the kind of education that our students get, and the fact that they work closely with career services and working on landing those internships."
Edwards says that a liberal arts education is more important than ever, and narrowing in on a field might limit a graduate's options in an ever-evolving job environment.
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