Aurora University

For Families and Friends

College is an exciting and challenging time. During your student’s time in college, they will assess their skills, interests, and abilities; explore majors and career paths; discover potential career options; and launch a job or graduate school search.

Choosing a career direction is a continuous process, and students go through the stages at varying rates of speed. You can help your student by understanding their journey and providing ongoing encouragement and support along the way.

Freshman Year

First-year students participate in Aurora University's First Year Experience (FYE), a program designed to facilitate transition into college. This takes place the summer before each student’s first term.

During the first year, your student will assess their skills, interests, and abilities. They will learn through experiencing success (or failure) in the courses they take, getting involved in campus activities, discussing topics of interest with their friends and faculty, and by being exposed to and trying out different ideas and experiences.

Many students enter college with a limited knowledge of the wide variety of courses and majors available to them. When they begin to dive into subjects that are new to them, they may change academic directions and move toward the new studies that most interest them. This is normal—and very exciting!

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Support your student’s exploration of interests. This is what learning is all about.
  • Affirm the areas of skill and talents your student has consistently demonstrated. Sometimes students take these for granted and need to be reminded.
  • Ask your student about the courses and activities they are enjoying. Students discover new things about themselves throughout the college experience. Your willingness to listen and be a sounding board will keep you informed and engaged in their journey.
  • Support your student’s involvement in extracurricular campus activities. These provide an additional way to explore career options as well as make friends.
  • Encourage your student to seek assistance with the college’s Career Services, which provides many resources, including career exploration tools and resume assistance. Also, note that your student has an assigned Student Success Advisor who can help throughout their college years (and beyond).

Sophomore Year

During the second year of college, students usually begin to explore majors and career options more seriously. Your student will likely study a broad range of subjects and will be encouraged to declare a major at the end of the academic year.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • If your student seems unsure about choosing a major, don’t panic. Encourage them to seek assistance through Career Services. Students often fear making the “wrong” choice so they may need some extra guidance.
  • Urge your student to talk to family, friends, or colleagues who work in fields in which they are interested. "Informational interviewing" with people can be extremely helpful at this stage.
  • Encourage your student to talk to their Student Success Advisor about getting connected to professionals in their fields of interest. Aurora has a network of alumni in various career fields who are willing to share information with students about their careers. These resources are invaluable both in this exploratory stage and later as students seek internships and jobs.

Junior Year

During sophomore and junior years, it’s important for students to experiment with possible career options. They can do this in a variety of ways: internships, summer jobs, campus jobs, and meaningful volunteer experiences both on campus and in the community. This is an essential time for your support and understanding.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Encourage your student to use Career Services. Advisors can help your student prepare a good resume and provide guidance in finding opportunities to try out career paths.
  • Tell your student that you understand the importance of gaining exposure to and experience in their field of career interest. Broadening experience through extracurricular activities is a valuable use of time.
  • Urge your student to secure an internship in their area of interest. Understand that internships or summer experiences may be non-paying or in an inconvenient location. Discuss financial expectations with your student before making a commitment.

Senior Year

During this year, organizing and conducting a job search or graduate school search ramps up. It’s also when students are heavily involved in more advanced courses and often have more responsibility in their campus and/or volunteer activities. Balancing these important pursuits and setting priorities is a constant challenge for seniors. It’s common for seniors to feel uncertain about their futures and stressed out.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Encourage your student to seek out Career Services’ services and programs throughout the year. Career Services provides assistance in preparation for the job search, including:
  • Resist the urge to nag your student if they don’t have a job lined up yet. Keep up the encouragement.
  • Stay engaged in your student’s job search by passing along information about their intended career field. Listen for indications from your student that you are getting carried away, and back off if needed.
  • Be prepared to support your student through the ups and downs of the job or graduate school search. It can be a long and tedious process, and there may be rejection. Remember that your student will need ongoing reassurance that for every door that closes, another one opens.

Thank you for being an advocate for your student!