Teachers College, Columbia University

Entering a Program: Helping Students Make Academic and Career Decisions

By Melinda Mechur Karp

This literature review examines the evidence on student decision making in the community college, focusing on the activities most relevant to students’ entry into programs of study—academic and career planning.

Although there is a large body of theoretical discussion and empirical evidence on potentially effective approaches to guidance and counseling, a review of current advising and counseling practices reveals barriers to effective implementation of these approaches on community college campuses. As currently structured, community college advising is limited in its ability to assist students in identifying career goals and academic pathways that will help them achieve those goals.

The literature reviewed in this paper points to four broad principles to guide restructuring efforts:

  • Program pathways should balance structure with exploration.
  • Career counseling should drive an integrated approach to advising.
  • Colleges should provide services to students based on their level of need.
  • Colleges should strategically deploy resources to allow for developmental advising.

Associated Project(s)

Assessment of Evidence Series