College Courses: Cerebral Palsy
Career Builder for College Students

By Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, Disability Employment Expert

Before your college student gets deep into college courses, I'd recommend checking the job prospects for the field of study he or she plans to pursue

Your youngster with cerebral palsy (CP) may have an interest in American literature, religious studies or art history, but I doubt, as fields of study, they’ll offer a bright future in terms of a job market, unless one plans to become of a part of academia.

I recognize that there are individuals who consider their college years as a time for expanding their horizons, learning how to learn and “finding themselves.” Yes, those activities are essential. And, taking those Liberal Arts college courses are helpful in gaining a well-rounded education.

Yet, as a person living with CP, I’ve always wanted to know about the end game. When I was in college, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could (such as taking job-focused college courses) to prepare for the real world of work.

Maybe I was too competitive and too focused and passed up on soaking in some of the ambiance of college life. But, I knew it would be tough for me to get a job due to my CP, and I worked diligently to prepare myself for employment -- taking what I thought were the "right" college course at the time and gaining a high grade point average.

I liked to write. So I chose journalism and advertising as a major and minor. I now see I was unknowingly preparing myself for business journalism, even though that field had not yet appeared in any labor department’s list of occupations.

And, I had no idea, in 1965, that someday I would be a blogger. I believe it’s difficult to predict what the “hot jobs” will be five years from now. If I were in college today, I’d be more open to “happenstance,” the admission that even the most carefully crafted career plan can (and will) take strange and wonderful twists and turns.

How is your college student with a disability
preparing for unexpected turns
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Now that I’ve admitted my personal peculiarities when it comes to choosing a career and selecting college courses, I feel I can more freely recommend the following “job outlook” resources for your CP college student.

The right college courses are a path to the future: illustration showing highway leading to distant mountains.College courses are a path to the future.

What is hot right now

Let us start from the perspective of college degrees. From that vantage point, one can then always look at individual college courses.

"As is typically the case, business and engineering majors, plus those earning degrees in technical fields, including computer science, are most in demand at the bachelor's degree level," writes the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in its "2016 Job Outlook."

While some studies break down which degrees are most popular nationwide, NACE's study is unique in that it polls employers and asks them to forecast their hiring intentions.

In 2016, NACE says, the five most in-demand bachelor’s degrees, based on employer hiring intentions, were in accounting, finance, engineering, computer science and business administration (in that order).

For a larger perspective, check the occupations with the largest expected job growth from 2010 to 2020. Note that jobs in health care show the largest increases.

Additional career information is also available at CareerOneStop Toolkit.

And note this:

"If you have a college-bound tech-inclined child, you could do worse than steer them toward cognitive computing, machine learning, and other AI-based disciplines. The number of jobs in that field is going to explode."
- Shel Holtz, Communication Strategist, 03-10-2017.

Top resources

Here are five other resources I find useful:

For more detail about 250 different types of jobs, I recommend The Occupational Outlook Handbook. It’s a nationally recognized source of career information, designed to provide you with valuable assistance in making decisions about your future work life.

The Handbook is revised every two years, and, for each job, it tells you:

  • Training and education (the college courses) needed.

  • Earnings.

  • Expected job prospects.

  • What workers do on the job.

  • Working conditions.

In addition, the Handbook gives you job search tips, links to information about the job market in each state, and more. You can also view frequently asked questions about the Handbook.

For the Handbook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics develops projections only for the U.S. as a whole. Almost all states make
projections for their states and some local areas. In addition, current employment data by occupation for states and areas are available from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey.

The 2015-16 Occupational Outlook Handbook was released in late March 2015.

The Handbook site contains virtually identical material to the print version. However, if you want a hard copy of the Handbook, ordering information is available from the
Government Printing Office (GPO).

Remember that many of the new jobs on the horizon have not yet appeared in government publications. Instead of using these resources to pinpoint a specific job your college student may want to target, consider them as general guidebooks to the short-term future of work

Also, they show general trends in the current job market.

At any rate, from a longer point of view, having the right degree (based on current readings of the job prospects in your youngster’s field) and understanding how that degree your youngster is working toward can best be leveraged in the job market are important factors in employment. That can help him or her be more attractive and competitive in the job market when the time comes to make the transition from school to work.

Taking the right college courses now is often the key to getting hired later on.

How is your college student with a disability
preparing for unexpected turns
in future work opportunities?
Join PACER’s Facebook discussion.

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This is Creative Commons content.  You can freely and legally use, share and repurpose it for non-commercial purposes only, provided you attach this sentence and the following attribution to it (including the two links):

Originally written and illustrated by Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, owner of Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC, who, as a person with cerebral palsy, served for 10 years as a vice president in a Fortune 500 company during his 29-year career in corporate communication. He’s an Accredited Business Communicator, certified as a Global Career Development Facilitator and author of 14 Amazon books about disability awareness and disability employment issues.