As networking events, office visits and interviews fill the calendar, upperclassmen are increasingly confronted the fact that the real world is fast approaching. Highly competitive, professional recruiting processes whirl through campus, and Yalies must be at once students and professionals. However, Yale expects its students to remain only students, providing no academic leeway as upperclassmen prepare for careers after Yale.
Despite the vast majority of its student body entering the workforce after graduation, Yale does not consider any part of the interview process to be valid for missing class or postponing schoolwork. Yale students cannot get a Dean’s Excuse because of a job commitment, and therefore must depend upon the flexibility of the professor. Frequently, professors will sympathize, but will not accommodate requests for extensions or make-up assessments. Yale can better support and position its students to succeed both academically and professionally by changing its policy to reflect the reality that most students participate in job recruitment — a strenuous process even without additional pressure from classes.
Students frequently seek to minimize the overwhelming stress of balancing work with school by obtaining Dean’s Excuses. According to Yale’s Academic Regulations, Dean’s Excuses permit students to postpone schoolwork under the circumstance of “incapacitating illness, the death of a family member or a comparable emergency … the observance of religious holy days and because of participation required in intercollegiate varsity athletic events.” Job interviews or events, of course, do not fall within this realm.
The omission of professional commitments from this list implies that Yale does not fully recognize the demanding nature, and priority, of the job process when coupled with existing academic commitments. In holding this view, the school does not adequately support students trying to find a job. To succeed in the job process, most students must devote tens, if not hundreds, of hours to attending networking sessions, visiting offices and studying and traveling for interviews. Many describe professional recruitment as a commitment comparable to an extra course. Therefore, it is unrealistic that students can integrate this added workload into their academic and extracurricular schedules without any additional support.
Beyond addressing the rigor of job recruitment, Yale must acknowledge that its curriculum is largely aimed at preparing students for their careers. We chose liberal arts to learn to think. The skills of analysis and critical thought excite and challenge us in the classroom, but they also equip us with tools to succeed in a range of professional fields. While we can’t lose sight of the intrinsic value of the Yale experience, we must also acknowledge that Yale trains us for next step, which, for many of us, means entering the professional world.
Admittedly, Yale does not have any pre-professional degree programs; however, the vast majority of Yale graduates join the workforce after graduation. According to Yale Office of Career Strategy Survey for the Class of 2014, 74.2 percent of the Yale College Class of 2014 worked in a full-time, part-time or short-term professional position upon graduating. 17 percent of the same graduating class went on to attend graduate or professional school, and of that group, 68.7 percent pursued a professional degree: Master’s, Medical or Law. Only 4.3 percent of the class continued on to conduct independent research.
Yale does provide pre-professional resources through the Office of Career Strategy, which, according to its website, “is here to support students at every stage of the career process, from your early days as a freshman to your life after graduation.” However, there is a fundamental disconnect between the OCS’s goal to support professional endeavors and the Academic Regulations’ neglect for them.
Simple changes within Yale’s Academic Regulations could create a more supportive culture by embracing the student body’s career aspirations, rather than fighting them. Many of our high schools allocated days for college visits, and Yale could implement similar exemptions by including job recruitment in the circumstances in which a Dean’s Excuse can be offered. Easing academic policy around career recruitment would not only lift tension in students’ schedules, but also convey a stance of support from the school. Just as high-school administrations recognized that many of their students would continue on to seek higher education upon graduation, Yale could recognize the prevalence of entrance into the workforce and actively position students to succeed.
Yale’s current policy does not reflect the reality that students need to devote a great deal of time — frequently personal, homework or even class time—to finding a job. Students should feel encouraged to pursue their career aspirations. As we look to find a job, Yale needs to do its own.
Kristin Mendez is a junior in Calhoun College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .