The Economic Value of Career Counseling Services for College Students in South Korea

Article excerpt

This study investigated college students' perception of the monetary value of career counseling services by using the contingent valuation method. The results of a multivariate survival analysis based on interviews with a convenience sample of 291 undergraduate students in South Korea indicate that, on average, participants' expressed willingness to pay (WTP) for such services ranged from U.S. $10.22 to $10.54 per hour of individual career counseling. Self-stigma and attitudes toward counseling had positive effects on their WTP, whereas the year in college and social stigma had negative effects. The results provide policy makers with preliminary evidence of the monetary value of career counseling.

Making good career choices and following productive career paths can lead to personal satisfaction and social integration (Feldman, 2003). From an individual's perspective, career development is an integral part of life satisfaction because the individual's abilities, interests, aptitudes, and personal values are integrated into this process (Brown & Crace, 1996). From a societal perspective, it is critical to place individuals in the "right" occupations to effectively manage human resources and maintain employment stability (Lim, 1997). Because career development is a lifelong process and not a one-time decision (Super, 1990), individuals are engaged in continuous decision-making processes at different stages of their lives. The reduced predictability and stability of the job market have made career choice and related decisions more difficult and complicated (B. Y. Choi, Park, Nam, Lee, & Lee, 201 1 ). As a consequence, an increasing number of individuals have been seeking professional help for their career concerns (Lester & Frugoli, 1989). Previous studies have identified several factors influencing people's help-seeking behavior. Kushner and Sher (1989) classified these factors as approach and avoidance factors. Approach factors increase the likelihood of help- seeking behaviors, whereas avoidance factors reduce it. For example, a person's previous counseling experience (an approach factor) is an important predictor of his or her behavior toward counseling (Vogel & Wester, 2003). In addition, people who tend to perceive their problems as severe are more likely to seek psychotherapy (Goodman, Sewell, & Jampol, 1984). Avoidance factors, however, reduce the likelihood of help-seeking behaviors and are regarded as obstacles. For example, social stigma is negatively related to attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help because people tend to avoid making negative judgments about others (Deane & Chamberlain, 1994). Previous studies (S. J. Choi, 2000; Yoo, 1996) have demonstrated that South Korea is a collectivistic culture that places great emphasis on appearances, and thus South Koreans are not likely to seek psychological help. Ludwikowski, Vogel, and Armstrong (2009) reported that individuals who internalize stigmatized belieft about career counseling services may devalue the utility of career services offered by universities, which makes it more difficult for them to seek these services even when they are needed. Yang, Lee, and Ahn (2012) suggested that, despite the rapid proliferation of career counseling centers in schools throughout South Korea, few students seek their services. This implies that in South Korea, a large majority of college students who could benefit from career counseling services fail to seek them.

In response to the urgent need for career counseling services in South Korea, both the public and the private sectors have deployed considerable resources to provide career guidance and counseling services (Jo, Kim, & Yi, 2009). In addition, given the highly competitive job market and unprecedented unemployment rates, universities and colleges have employed considerable resources to facilitate the employment of their graduates (So, 2011). Despite this expansion of human/financial resources for career counseling services in these institutions, no study has provided a cost-benefit analysis of these efforts. …