Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Getting The Degree or Certificate

The dropping rate of degree completion is a growing problem, not just at 4-year colleges but at community colleges as well. According to a Futureworks paper sponsored by the Lumina Foundation, the rates of 2 and 4-year college completion have declined from the mid-1980s; two-year college completion rates have declined from about 44% to 39%.

A couple of weeks ago I attended an interesting forum, “From the Work Station to Graduation: paths to college success for Washington’s working adults” sponsored by the Seattle King County Workforce Education Collaborative and Port Jobs.

My primary interest in attending was to learn more about strategies to help students complete their programs.

There was an emphasis on what “best practices” public colleges can learn from private ones – a topic sure to provoke emotions and reactions, and it did – in a productive way.

I heard students need:
  • consistent, practical career and academic guidance and follow up from schools (a.k.a. “success coaches”)
  • flexible, predictable course schedules so people can enter and leave programs easily in a temporary life crisis (child care issues, divorce, etc.)
  • short term, clear academic paths to careers (certification or degree to do _____ job)
  • more training on soft skills (behavior, communication)
Career services plays a big role in helping students plan out their coursework, and yet either students don’t take advantage of what’s offered or career centers have insufficient funding or personnel to do their work. Or they’re sometimes related.

You can’t blame students for not going to Career Services if there is very little help or the help given is inconvenient, confusing or unattractively presented. By the same token, you can’t blame counselors for not being able to help students who give them the brush off or ignore them. Ultimately students need to take initiative and control over their own future.

I don’t begin to have all the answers to the degree completion problem. But what I do know is that there is a scientifically proven way to increase degree completion rates using Holland's Theory of Vocational Choice.

This Journal of Vocational Behavior study is just one of several recently published articles in national peer-reviewed journals that shows the impact of "interest/major congruence" - or a little more simplistic way of saying it, "personality/major match." By helping people choose a college major or training program early that matches their Holland personality type(s), you improve students' college success.

And now Career Key offers an affordable way to offer it to students choosing a career cluster, pathway or field and those choosing a college major or training program.

We’ve matched The Career Key test results to Career Clusters and Pathways and 1,500+ college majors and training programs in a way that can be adapted for any college or institution trying to guide students in the right direction. We’ll be releasing it to the public in a few weeks and updating the "choose a college major" link above.

If you want to learn more, please contact me. This is a topic I love to discuss!

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