For the majority of business-related careers, a college degree is mandatory. Even though 1.8 million students will pursue a bachelor’s degree and 821 million will study for a master’s degree in 2014 – 2015, a typical student will not maximize his collegiate experience for career success. Use these tips to gain measurable results that originate with your schooling but extend way beyond academics.

Plan Ahead

During the most recent recession marked by dismal unemployment rates averaging 5 percent from 2007 – 2009, the debate about the decreasing value of a college education has made headlines and fueled social media trends. The fundamental issue is simple: College grads are not getting jobs; they are acquiring spiraling debt. However, the four pivotal factors that you should consider are which college, what major, how much it costs AND how can you can use your academic experience as a foundation for lifelong career success.

Choose a Marketable Field

Predictably, a business degree continues to remain a high-ranking major. The Center on Education and the Workforce reports that the median earnings for an employee with a bachelor’s degree in business will earn $60,000 – $80,000. Why? The curriculum has all of the key components employers seek. If you are trying to stay out of debt, you can even earn your Marylhurst University degree in business management while working full time.

Pad your Resume

The most sought-after skills in today’s competitive labor market can be divided into two major groups — soft skills and hard skills. The soft skills are personal qualities or “people” skills. They include a good attitude, sensitivity for others and social etiquette. The skills include effective oral and written communication, analytical/research (problem solving), multicultural/diversity, teamwork and management/leadership.

Practice your soft skills to cultivate relationships at school, nationally and internationally. Use social media to position yourself to receive internships, mentorships, leadership positions and unpublicized job openings. Follow the experts in your field, emulate their behavior and strive to become a recognized leader. Network with alumni and let them know of your goals and accomplishments.

Additionally, join a civic group and continue their mission after you graduate. Examine the most pressing problems at your school or in your community, spearhead a team and resolve challenges.

Master hard skills e.g., computer skills, foreign language proficiency, calculus aptitude and machine operation. Construct and analyze a mathematical model to address a communal issue. Learn how to operate equipment. Travel abroad with a foreign exchange program.

Further your Education

Pursuing additional schooling demonstrates your work ethic and desire for advancement. Be proactive. Devise a business education plan that is flexible, creative, marketable and based on long-term results.