Exploring new year, new semester changes?  Your students are too.  Harness that.

I am a sucker for new beginnings. The new year, with a new semester, offers an opportunity to reflect on what is going well and what I’d like to do better—and an opportunity to make to make some goal-directed changes, too. I always pause with the turning of the calendar and the start of a new academic term to take stock of my current career situation. Are there new directions I should consider pursuing? New opportunities to create? If you’re like me, you enjoy this kind of planning. It gives you a boost, some motivation to propel you into 2023.

Guess what? Your students are engaged in this process too. They are looking at the courses they have lined up, evaluating them in light of their interests and goals, and wondering if they are still on track. If they sense that something is not quite right, now is the time to look at making changes. For career services professionals, this offers a golden opportunity. Harness the motivation that students are feeling—the motivation to self-examine, to look ahead, to re-evaluate, and to set new goals.

How do you do that? Form a strategy to funnel students into your office while they are experiencing a peak level of need for your services. Try these tips:

Get the word out. Whatever steps you normally take to advertise your services on campus, double down on those right out of the gate. Send out a slide for faculty to include in their early-semester power point lectures, serving as an announcement that you are eager to serve. Get those flyers approved and hung. Set up a table in the student plaza and hand out coffee or candy along with your center’s postcards or refrigerator magnets. Update your website. The more eyeballs you can get on your office’s name and logo, the more your office will be top-of-mind for students, and the more likely they will be to follow up with you.

One click, one text, one call. Students are ready to seek your help, but many need an on-ramp to make an appointment before their calendars get jammed with commitments. Simple awareness helps but is only a start. Make it easy for them to follow through. Every e-mail or flyer from your office should offer a one-click way to book an appointment and/or a number to text or call and get a response immediately. The fewer obstacles there are between the idea (“I should check out the career center!”) and the behavior (“I just scheduled an appointment there!”), the better.

Refer a friend. When students leave after meeting in your office, send them away with a handful of referral cards and an invitation to share about their experience with their friends. Want to up the ante? Offer an incentive, even something trivial. For example, if a student sends a friend and they mention the referrer’s name, send them a thank you note in campus mail with a trinket, even just a career center-branded pen, chapstick, or a Lifesaver.

Show how you will help. Do students know all you do? They may assume you can help them with a resume and prep for an interview. But if they are asking big picture questions about their trajectory, they need to know you can help them explore their options and identify a purpose. Plaster a few posters with screenshots of PathwayU results—an interest profile, career matches, the job connector, the workbook. Offer glimpses of the tools they can use to understand themselves better and discern their callings.

It’s already mid-January, but I’m still seeing Planet Fitness ads on TV. New year resolution goals are still proving motivating for folks, and the fitness industry is naturally trying to capitalize. As your semester begins, your office can do the same. Students are ready to explore. Get them in the door, and do what you do best, with PathwayU’s help. Few things in your profession are more satisfying than helping students identify and pursue a path forward that will bring them joy, meaning, and purpose.