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Career Pathways Overview

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 7 months, 1 week ago

Front Page / Campus-Wide Integration / Career Pathways / Overview

Career Pathways

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download


Context for Expanding Pathways


Many institutions are exploring how students may find pathways that best prepare them for post-graduate opportunities, including employment and graduate school. With high costs of a college education and increasing critiques from students and their families, institutions must clearly demonstrate the value of their students’ educational experiences compared to more affordable and easier options. 


For centers of civic and community engagement, creating visible pathways tied to career preparation and readiness is a strategic move. Many centers can collaborate with other campus units, especially Career Services and Internships, to showcase  these pathways. Such pathways often leverage both co-curricular and curricular experiences, often involving internships and applied learning opportunities. These pathways mesh with students’ personal and vocational interests, which for youth today often include the desire to make a difference and work on issues of concern. Such pathways often build in key high-impact practices (HIPs) that have been found to be tied to graduates’ success in the workplace. As Kuh and O'Donnell (2013) reported, to be effective HIPs must involve:


1. High performance expectations

2. Significant investment of student time and effort over an extended period

3. Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters

4. Students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that differ from those with which they are familiar

5. Frequent, timely, and constructive feedback

6. Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning

7. Opportunities to discover relevance of learning through real-world applications

8. Public demonstration of competence


More recent research has uncovered additional dimensions to effective HIPs, especially for today's diverse students. A 2021 report entitled Getting Beyond the High-Impact Practice (HIPs) Checklist: Designing with Elements of Quality and Racial Equity in Mind by Jillian Kinzie, Alexander McCormick, Bob Gonyea, Brendan Dugan, and Samantha Silberstein found that two additional features of HIPs are:


9. Making a difference for others

10. Agency and accomplishment


Designing Intentional Pathways with Proven Practices


Moreover, research involving graduates' success in the workplace and other post-graduate opportunities has further punctuated the connection with experiential learning and community engagement. For instance, a 2014 large-scale study of graduates in the U.S. conducted by Gallup Inc. and Purdue University found six factors most correlated to graduates success. As the Great Jobs, Great Lives report states: “If employed graduates feel their college prepared them well for life outside of it, the odds that they are engaged at work rise nearly three times. Experiences in college that contribute to feeling prepared for life after college, such as internships or jobs where students are able to apply what they are learning in the classroom, active involvement in extracurricular activities and organizations, and working on a project that took a semester or more to complete are part of this preparation.”


Unfortunately, through, most college students are not having these experiences. The report also found that, “Only 14% of all college graduates strongly agree that they had support in all three areas. College graduates are most likely to strongly agree that they had a professor who excited them about learning (63%), while 27% strongly agree that they had a professor who cared about them personally, and 22% strongly agree that they had a mentor who encouraged them. Unfortunately, those who strongly agree to having experienced all six elements of support and experiential and deep learning during their college time are rare: just 3% of all college graduates. This suggests that colleges can give students the knowledge and experiences that help make them engagement-ready and savvy enough to identify and seek out workplaces that foster engagement."


Thus, effective career pathways may build in the following proven practices. See the next section, Guide, to learn more about how institutions are doing this work.