SYRACUSE - There is so much emphasis on getting into college and sorting through the complicated maze of financial aid to pay for higher education, that career planning is often neglected.

That may be changing, said Chuck Reutlinger, associate director of the Center for Career Services at Syracuse University. Students historically rarely came to the center until their junior or senior years, but are starting to come in earlier now, he said.

Reutlinger was one of several speakers at S.U.'s career development and exploration seminar at Marshall Square Mall Saturday, which featured representatives of several career-planning services.

"It is critical that students come in for career planning," said Reutlinger. "Higher education is a huge investment and expectations are high to make the investment pay off."

Reutlinger said career counseling involves a student considering interests and skills, determining if those match their educational background, and deciding what type of environment they work best in.

Many of these characteristics are identified during assessments and interviews at the center, said Reutlinger, but the assessments were not the most important factor in choosing a career.

"We help them create a sense of value in themselves as a person," said Reutlinger.

Other services include strategy sessions, resume/cover writing and critiques, collecting and transmitting documents, mock interviews, career fairs, on-campus recruiting, workshops, a career-related library, continuing education classes and graduate school opportunities,

Gina Odell, a career consultant for RLS Career Center in Syracuse, said students and adults returning to upgrade educations should start career planning by determining what they are interested in and researching that field.

This involves speaking to people employed in the field and deciding if the career is something they want to do and if a career in that field is realistic.

"A person needs to sort out their thoughts and find out what is possible," said Odell.

An area Odell said her center can help returning students and older clients is tuning up basic computer skills. Many employers have on-line applications or screening questionnaires that are challenging for applicants with minimal computer literacy.

"We are all not nine-year olds with the great computer skills," said Odell.

RLS offers retirement and educational planning advice in addition to many of the same services offered by S.U.

The RLS Career Center can be reached by calling (315) 446-0500 or on-line at The S.U. Center for Career Center can be reached at (315) 443-3616 or by visiting the center located in the Schine Student Center on the S.U. main campus.

To reach Staff Writer Robert Taylor call 253-5311, Ext .267