National College Access Network
Connecting College and Career Success: Lessons on Advising, Data, and Partnerships
Postsecondary education is important individually for securing personal and professional satisfaction and success, but also socially for ending cycles of inequity. It is clear that our field’s work – assisting low-income, first-generation students with accessing and completing postsecondary education – is profoundly important. What is often unclear, to students and their families, at least, is the career path to which that access and success leads. When NCAN members work with students and their families to help them prepare for, enroll in, and complete college, it is important that students have a sense of the broader, longer-term purpose of their effort and investment.
To make that sense clearer for members, and in turn students and their families, NCAN has been engaged in work that will connect career success with members’ access and success services. This work is generously supported by the Strada Education Network (formerly USA Funds.)
The question of “why career success?” is an important one, and it represents a new direction and area for our field. Recall that there was a time when our field more solely focused on college access, with just a few practitioners focusing on postsecondary success work. Today, NCAN member programs are much more commonly engaged in postsecondary success work. NCAN believes that it is now time to consider adding a new area of service – career success – to the mix. The thinking behind this belief is that helping students connect career success to college success allows them to better grasp the relationship between academic pursuits and professional futures, and become more motivated and prepared to apply and matriculate to – and persist and complete at – a postsecondary institution.
Students need to understand the variety of possible careers and those of most interest to them, as well as the corresponding academic requirements. With that knowledge, students can look for relevant internships and other pre-professional experiences and follow a more efficient and meaningful academic path – in terms of both time and finances – to completion.
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