January 13, 2012

CAPS attendance continues to soar as pilot program succeeds

Starting earlier on the track to post-graduate employment, first-years are continuing to flock to Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS), perpetuating the office’s precipitous climb in participation in recent years.

First-year counseling appointments have more than doubled since last year, which even then saw record turnouts at CAPS. Over the last three years, there has been a 412-percent increase in counseling appointments. Last academic year, an all-time high of 435 first-years had met with advisers before the end of January.

“I think that students are coming in with a clearer sense of what they want to do after graduation, and they’re excited to work with us as partners to help them achieve their goals,” CAPS director Meredith Daw said.

At CAPS-sponsored events, talks, and conferences, first-year attendance has increased by 84 percent over the past three years. This past fall, CAPS also hosted a résumé and cover letter workshop that approximately 400 first-years signed up for, according to Régine Desruisseaux, the College Programming Office’s associate director of class programs. This week, over 600 first-year students signed up for a summer strategies workshop.

Noticing the surge last year, CAPS extended walk-in hours, and advisers offered more scheduled appointment times.

According to Desruisseaux, a common challenge for any college program is drawing second- and third-year students. Desruisseaux said she believes that Taking the Next Step, a day-long event where students can meet alumni in different fields, has been effective at drawing older students.

Desruisseaux said that she thought the increase in CAPS attendance was a “sign of the times,” and reflected unease about the economy. Daw was more optimistic about the job market for students.

“I don’t want to paint a picture that things are bleak when I actually think, for University of Chicago students, things look good,” Daw said.