I wanted to reach out this morning and simply share some stuff I picked up at the NACADA conference last week. There was some great stuff said at the conference in a lot of sessions. As the most recent set of thoughts came to me via the conference-ending hot topics session, I’ll limit my comments to that one, but encourage you all to chime in with your favorite take-aways.
Let’s face it, Virginia Gordon has given U/E advisors so much! Her exploration model is so important in the major-selection process that all our presenters on the panel referenced her approach as foundational to what they do at their home institutions. Self-exploration is the only way students can reflect on who they are—and that’s vital to helping them find a major in which they can be successful. We’ve three great Gordon pieces cited on our Reading Room page, but here’s a capture of them to save you some hunting:
Gordon, V.N. (1992). Handbook of Academic Advising. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Gordon, V.N. (1995). The undecided college student: An academic and career advising challenge. (2nd ed.). Springfield, IL: Thomas.
Gordon, V.N. (2007). The undecided college student: An academic and career advising challenge. (3rd ed.). Springfield, IL: Thomas.
“No student is as one dimensional as the choice of a single major”
This quote from Tara Stopfel Warden at the University of Cincinnati is one of my favorites. As I’ve written in the past, I’ve a bit of a problem with how prescriptive and one dimensional our use of "personality" and temperament assessments can be (even though Holland and Myers-Briggs focus on more than just one or two sets of traits). But this idea, in specific, empowers us to encourage our students to be open minded about the broad range of reactions they have to outside stimuli. I use the phrase, “appreciate how your reasonable sensibilities express themselves within majors and careers” when encouraging students to consider their whole selves in the major-exploration process. This, I think, is another way of saying that.
“Think about how much of your resume is dedicated to your college major”
David Spight laid this gem on us at the session, and it was as though choirs of angels sang behind him (at least that’s the way it played out in my head...is that weird?). Given the rapidly changing world of work, job change statistics, and the economy, It’s important to remind our students that, when they select an undergraduate major, they’re not signing a contract for life. It was said in the early 2000s that we’re educating students today for jobs that don’t necessarily exist and will be developed by the time they graduate from college. Think about this--who among us had heard the words “green,” collar,” and “job” uttered consecutively in a sentence prior to the Spring 2008 Presidential debates?
I also once heard a statistic that the average American would have three career changes prior to retirement. And that was career change—they weren’t talking about changing departments, they were talking about butcher, to baker, to candlestick maker. One more stat I've seen is that 50% of the American work force is working in their major field. I, tragically, can’t lay my hands on the sources of those little bits of data, but I’m still digging (feel free to share if you’ve other stats).
Finally, think about that young adult entering the field of investment banking, for example. They wanted to make a boat-load of money, so they thought, “I’ll major in Business” in the fall of 2005. Then they graduated into the worst economic crisis the planet had seen since the 1930s. When we allow students to confuse university education for job training, we not only run the risk of allowing them to miss valuable and diverse educational experiences, but we also propagate the sometimes mythological existence of a career path that moves in a straight line from graduation to retirement with no detours or switchbacks along the road. We also allow them to put themselves at the mercy of the job market, in one filed only, when they graduate.
These are just a few of my post-conference thoughts—what are some of yours?
I just need to add that it was so nice to meet so many of your for the first time, IRL (in real life) in some cases, and to reconnect with colleagues I only get to see once a year! looking forward to #NACADA12! (come on, you knew I was gonna work social media and hashtags into the post somewhere ;)