Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Promoting Career and College Readiness, Aspirations, and Self-Efficacy: Curriculum Field Test

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Promoting Career and College Readiness, Aspirations, and Self-Efficacy: Curriculum Field Test

Article excerpt

By 2018, 62% of the jobs in the United States will require a college education, and over half of those jobs will require a 4-year degree (Dyce, Albold, & Long, 2013). Unfortunately, the United States is unprepared to meet this demand-facing a shortage of 16 to 23 million collegeeducated adults in the workforce by 2025 (Lumina Foundation, 2009). With high school diplomas less valuable than they were in the 20th century, adolescents are confronted with life and career choices that increasingly demand knowledge and skills requiring some postsecondary educational training (Feller, 2014).

Being prepared to meet the career and college readiness challenges of the 21st century through postsecondary education is challenging for many students. First-generation students, low-income students, and students of color are particularly at risk of not having access to postsecondary education (Perna & Finney, 2014). According to a national profile of college readiness, only 25% of high school graduates in 2011 were prepared for the rigors of postsecondary education (U.S. Department of Education, 2011). The U.S. Department of Education's (2011) report also indicated that students of color are underrepresented in graduation rates, college readiness benchmarks, gifted and talented identification rates, and Advanced Placement enrollment rates. According to the ACT (2016) Report on College and Career Readiness, 49% of White students met at least three more college readiness benchmarks than did Hispanic (23%) and Black (11%) students. Students who are not college ready are less likely to earn a degree (Royster, Gross, & Hochbein, 2015). This study therefore aimed to examine the effects of a curriculum intervention designed to improve the career and college readiness of early adolescents from backgrounds of low socioeconomic status by enhancing their college readiness knowledge, access aspirations, and self-efficacy.

Career and College Readiness

Career and college readiness may be broadly defined as being prepared in the key learning skills necessary to succeed in entry-level general education courses in college and possessing the content knowledge and key learning skills and techniques sufficient to begin studies in a career pathway (Conley, 2010). This definition focuses on the importance of academic knowledge and skills that are indeed requisites for career and college readiness. Our view is that the definition fails to address domains that are equally important and may generally be classified as attitudes. For example, students may be provided with sufficient access to academic knowledge and skills while still failing to become career and college ready for lack of confidence in their ability to succeed. Professional school counselors are especially positioned to focus on enhancing important attitudinal variables in support of additional efforts to enhance knowledge and skills (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2012).

Students from low-income families are under- or unprepared academically, and lower levels of achievement are expected of them (National Commission on the High School Senior Year, 2001). Their families tend to have lower levels of support and attainment expectations and are poorly equipped to navigate the application and financial aid processes (McWhirter, Torres, Salgado, & Valdez, 2007). Because students from traditionally underrepresented groups face academic, accessibility, and affordability barriers that impede college and career readiness (Gildersleeve, 2010), private organizations and foundations and public agencies have sought to develop interventions that will help such students overcome these barriers. Consequently, we added an additional layer of planning to ensure that the curriculum described and tested in the present study adequately addressed these potential deficits.

A Career and College Readiness Curriculum

The goal of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a curriculum titled Preparing for Post-High School Education: Motivated, Informed, and Ready (PPHSE:MIR). …

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