Using Data to Keep Students on the Right Career Path

August 26, 2014 Kristen Hicks

An estimated 20%–50% of students start college without choosing a major, and another 75% switch at some point before graduating. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it takes time for some people to figure out what they’re good at and enjoy; however, it can slow down the educational process and make college more expensive for those who change majors. Fortunately, the right data can help students answer the following questions so they can make smarter decisions with respect to their career choices.

Does your career choice match your skill set?

A student who pursues pre-med because she likes the idea of helping people might quickly realize she doesn’t have the memorization skills or quick thinking required for the field. Data can help students match their strengths with potential career options.

Will your career path provide the level of salary and benefits you desire?

In almost any career a student might consider, it’s possible to find data about the average starting salaries, level of unemployment, and lifetime salary expectations.

What courses, programs, and schools will give you the best chance for success in your chosen career?

Texas Higher Ed Data provides students with fairly comprehensive data regarding which programs at which colleges lead to success in particular careers. This kind of information will likely be more available in the coming years.

What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how will they influence your success in your chosen career?

Schools that use embedded assessment can provide students with regular feedback regarding their strengths and weaknesses. This data can help determine the best career options for each student.

What gaps in skills and knowledge do you still have?

If a school can provide students with data that gives them a greater understanding of what they already know and what they still need to learn, it can help those students make better decisions about which courses to take, what they should focus on when studying, and which extracurricular activities might help them in their respective fields of study.

Where should you focus your efforts to ensure you pass the certification exam?

When schools and faculty use embedded assessment to track categories and learning outcomes, they obtain valuable data that can be used to show students which areas they should focus on the most while preparing for any certification exams they might be taking.

Ultimately, with the right data, students have a greater chance of succeeding in college and choosing the best career path.


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