Q&A with Melinda Stephan on College and Career Planning Night

Melinda Stephan, College and Career Resource and Programming Coordinator, talks about Freshman and Sophomore College and Career Planning night, which will take place on Feb. 28, and the Business Majors and Careers fair, which will take place on March 20


Melinda Stephan, College and Career Resource and Programming Coordinator

What is the Freshman and Sophomore College and Career Planning night?

This’ll be the third year we’ve done Freshman and Sophomore College and Career Planning Night. We started offering it, well we’ve always been offering a college information night that was more geared towards juniors and seniors in the fall, and I really wanted to do a program for our younger students and their parents, for topics that are a bit more relevant for where they are in the process. We set it up very similarly, it’s a fairly long night from around 6:30-9.


What happens that night?

We start out with me doing a brief presentation on some of the resources we have here in the College and Career center, and then I stop talking to them and we do break out sessions. There’s three breakout sessions and they can choose from about seven topics. Each breakout session is about half an hour and the topics for this program are a little more relevant for our younger students instead of nitty-gritty details about how to apply for college, how to write a college essay or listening to an admissions panel.


What are some of the breakout sessions that will be offered?

We’ll still have someone coming to talk about how to pay for college, people from InvestEd, and then we’ll have a breakout session on SAT and ACT, so our families understand what those tests are and how you can do some work to prep for them but also specifically how do you use your PSAT scores to help you in preparing. We’ll also have someone talking about family connections, and how to use family connections in this process of exploring college and careers.  Some of these topics we do every year, year in and year out. We do have a couple of new topics, for instance, this year we’re adding a session called ‘Top Ten Truths of the College Search and Exploration process’ to dispel some of the myths that are out there. We actually did this last year, but Mrs. MacDaniel in the student service’s office, is going to do a session on building a positive social media profile, because your social media profile can be looked at by colleges, looked at by employers.


What do you like about the program?

The nice thing about that program, that I like and getting feedback from students and parents, is you can pick which things you want to hear about. You’re not sitting in an auditorium listening to hours worth of presentations, but you can pick on whether you want to hear about SAT or ACT or how to maximize a college visit, whatever you want. It’s well-attended and we get good feedback every year. We tweak it a little every year with, like I said, new breakout sessions or we might tweak how we present the information.


What is the Business Majors and Careers fair?

The Business Majors and Careers fair is new, we’ve never offered one before. But we have started offering a series of these majors and careers fair. Last year, in November, we offered a STEM Majors and Careers, and then last November, this past fall, we offered a Healthcare Majors and Careers fair. We’re continuing on that path, and the plan is to keep offering these on different topics. In the future, we’d like to maybe offer a performing arts majors and careers fair or an educational services majors and careers fair— just helping our students really explore really specific areas. A lot of schools will do a college fair and a lot of schools will do a careers fair but they’re kind of big, general fairs while these are more focused.


What do you like about it?

The thing I like about that, that’s gone well up to this point, is that students get to see educational paths that they might take but they also get to talk to professionals (in these fields), so they start to make connections between what to study and what you do that might lead to that.


What will happen during the event?

The Business Majors and Career fair is still taking shape. As of now, we have about 18 different college major programs, from all over the state of Indiana, a couple from out of state. Certainly big players like the Kelley School of Business at IU and Kranert at IU, but we’ll also have parents as volunteers who might like to share their experiences as adults in the business fields.


What do you plan to do in the future regarding this event?

The goal is to rotate the topics, like we know that we’ll probably do a STEM fair again next fall and in a couple years we’ll probably do Business again. The goal is, is that if you’re here for four years, you’ll have the opportunity to go to four to six fairs. We do a lot of stuff related to college but we want to do more related to career. That way, students can make the connection, ‘I’m not just going to college, I’m going to college to prepare for the future,’ the pathway between education and the career. We’re also getting the business department here at Carmel involved, we haven’t completely finalized how yet, but it’s a nice way to show off how what’s happening at Carmel in those areas too.