So, a few weeks ago, I was asked to deliver a presentation to a group of new students on the topic of getting on the right path in higher education. This marks a return, for me, to the sorts of presentations I delivered earlier in my career when I was a primary role advisor to undeclared and exploratory students. Though the article linked above was written when I worked at a four-year unviresity, I think the same research process is appropriate when engaging students in this sort of meaning-making at a two-year college.
Finding your best path forward is a longer process than simply trusting the decision to someone (or something) else. If one enters the world of work in their early-20s and retire, like many Americans, in their mid- to late-60s, they’re going to spend over 80,000 hours working–I’d like to think it would be their preference to have a say in something to which they’ll dedicate that much time?
“…self-authored students will not blindly follow parental expectations or request advisors to tell them which major to select.”
That quote is from an article by Jane Pizzolato in the NACADA Journal from 2006. My approach has always been to engage students in their own choices and decision-making activities. My answer to the question, “what can I do with a major in…” has always been, “I don’t know, what can you do with a major in…” It is imperative to help students make meaning of the time they will spend at our institutions. It is elemental to each student’s success to empower them to choose the roads that are meaningful to them, rather than allowing them to passively follow the paths that have been chosen for them. This is not to disavow the importance of a family’s input or the norms of a student’s community–these environmental factors will be present in their reasonable sensibilities if their meaning is estimable from the student’s perspective.
“When we encourage students to understand how they uniquely represent aspects of the Holland Codes in their reasonable sensibilities, we empower them to not only make thoughtful decisions about their major, but to become self-authored and more thorough decision makers in every aspect of their education.”
As my current institution grapples with ways to encourage students to embrace growth mindsets over passively accepting fixed mindsets, I can really see no other way to help students find their best pathway… the open road to the rest of their lives.