Measuring the effectiveness of “the major decision”: a career counseling group for undecided and re-deciding first year, first-generation college students

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Melissa Wheeler (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
L. DiAnne Borders

Abstract: Researchers have reported that the graduation and retention rate of students whose parents do not hold college degrees (first-generation college students or FGCS) are lower than that of their peers whose parents do hold college degrees. FGCS are 1.3 times more likely to leave college after their first year compared to their non-FGCS peers (Ishitani 2003; 2006). In their efforts to investigate ways to retain FGCS, researchers have given little attention to FGCS reported career intentions for college attendance (Bradbury & Mather, 2009; Byrd & MacDonald, 2005; Coffman, 2011; Martinez et al., 2009), even though a link has been established between career motives for college and increased GPA, adjustment to college, and increased college commitment for FGCS (Dennis et al., 2005). Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent et al., 1994) may offer a plausible explanation for one reason why FGCS are not continuing their enrollment in college. This study is a modification of the previous proposed career counseling group for undecided and re-deciding first year, first-generation college students. The current study was designed to utilize semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences and expectations of FGCS who were undecided or rethinking their college major through the lens of SCCT. Data gathered during this study were analyzed using the guidelines of Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR). The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences and expectations of these students while choosing to come to college, choosing a career, and the decision to become undecided or to re-think their college major. It was found that student experience a range of personal and vicarious experiences, social persuasion, expectations, physical/emotional states, messages, and thoughts around the decision making process. The tenets of Social Cognitive Career theory were represented in the results of this study; however, some of the findings did not reflect tenets of SCCT. Results from this study add to the data concerning the types of experiences that influence FGCS decision making and goal achievement.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Career counseling, CQR, First-generation college students, Retention, Social Cognitive Career Theory, Undecided
First-generation college students $z United States
Counseling in higher education $z United States
College attendance $z United States
College dropouts $z United States

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