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Matching Talents to Careers: From Self-Directed to Guided Pathways

By: Thomas Bailey, Davis Jenkins, Clive Belfield & Elizabeth Kopko


Matching Talents to Careers: From Self-Directed to Guided Pathways

College plays an important role in connecting students with jobs and careers. Individuals with college degrees are on average able to secure higher-paying, higher-status jobs than those with no college credential or some college experience. Students’ choice of major is fundamentally related to how much they will earn and what types of jobs they will secure. This chapter examines the matching process between students and college programs or majors, primarily in community colleges.

Community colleges provide an often overwhelmingly large set of program options, many of which are poorly defined and not clearly aligned with student end goals. What is more, most advising in community colleges focuses narrowly on academic planning. Career counseling is provided separately, usually on a sporadic and voluntary basis.

To improve students’ major selections, students need to engage in an education process in which they explore their aptitudes and interests and develop relevant skills, but the majors and programs that they are choosing should ideally also be redesigned to be more coherent and easier to navigate, and better connected to subsequent education and employment.

This chapter appears in Matching Students to Opportunity, edited by Andrew P. Kelly, Jessica S. Howell, and Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj.