Making Informed Decisions in College

October 23, 2019

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Title:  College, On Purpose: A Guide to Implementing the Purpose First Strategy— The Missing Link Between Career Choice, Guided Pathways, and First-Year Momentum

Source: Complete College America

Author: Complete College America

A report published by Complete College America documents the scope and implementation of the Purpose First strategy—an initiative aimed to help students identify a clear academic path, build early momentum, and make informed decisions about courses and careers throughout their college journey. According to the report, college students may make uninformed decisions given the overwhelming amount of major options and insufficient guidance, leading to unsatisfying choices, additional time to complete their degree, increased cost, or failure to complete their degree. Additionally, students of color are particularly susceptible to these challenges and remain underrepresented in the highest-paying occupations.

The Purpose First strategy presents students with structured opportunities to explore their interests, skill set, and career ambition; helps them to choose a broad area of study (meta-majors); and provides them additional major and career guidance to ensure they maintain momentum toward on-time graduation.

The report emphasizes that effective implementation of the initiative requires intentional efforts at the institutional level, such as building an institutional culture that values both academic success and career outcomes, designing meta-majors, and creating first-year experiences that enable students to plan ahead and build momentum from the beginning. The report also discussed preliminary outcomes at Purpose First institutions. For instance, since implementing meta-majors, Georgia State University has seen a 30 percent reduction in the number of students changing their majors. At Kapi’olani Community College, 87.5 percent of students reported feeling more confident about their major choices after completing a career assignment through First-Year Experience courses.

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—Yuan He

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