'Having Second Thoughts?' Information Sessions
‘Second Thoughts’ addresses student retention and success through information sessions for students having second thoughts about their studies. It aims to normalise change and uncertainty while helping students identify key issues and options to make positive changes. The session flags common problems and includes stories of career uncertainty and successful transitions. It gives practical pointers on accessing support services and navigating relevant university processes around changes to enrolment. The sessions are timed around critical census and transfer dates to reach students ‘just in time’.
‘Second Thoughts’ is a collaboration between Careers Advisers, College Transition Teams and First Year Course Co-ordinators.
Demonstrated benefit to tertiary students, graduate employers and/or tertiary institutions
The ‘Second Thoughts’ sessions benefit students by acknowledging a very common experience of uncertainty around choice of degree (including ambivalence about a course that wasn’t a first preference). It validates a range of issues students may be experiencing, supports good decision-making and offers a call to action with practical options on-the-spot including speaking with College Transition Teams and First Year Course Co-ordinators, booking in for career appointments and accessing relevant forms. Student feedback has consistently highlighted the value of the session in its practical information and validation that students are ‘not alone’. The ‘Second Thoughts’ initiative has been small-scale in 2015, attracting 52 total session registrations and 41 students have attended sessions.
The ‘Second Thoughts’ initiative benefits La Trobe University in supporting student retention and success, and bringing together knowledge from different parts of the university and areas of expertise to address student’s needs. Importantly, staff involved are sharing knowledge around the functional side of university processes, administration and key current ideas in career development, creating a holistic resource for students. Our booking system and evaluation has enabled us to identify possible patterns and areas of need in students identifying as ‘having second thoughts’, and to tailor session content accordingly.
Potentially or currently benefits the NAGCAS organisation, its members and the career development industry
As a small scale initiative at our Melbourne campus ‘Second Thoughts’ provides a model and collateral that can also be adapted and used at our regional campuses in the future. We are currently developing online information and a ‘toolkit’ that will include an event planner, a communications plan, marketing materials and students’ stories of successful change. Other universities can draw on the project as a model and the online information for students will be freely accessible on our website.
Students’ career development in universities takes place within a wider context of administrative processes and systems as well as the stories students bring to their studies around who they are and what’s possible. The ‘Second Thoughts’ initiative shows innovation and creativity in actively acknowledging the emotional terrain and background issues that can drive students to drop out of their studies or repeatedly change courses without addressing the underlying concerns or barriers to success.
‘Second Thoughts’ centres on the student experience and brings ‘why’ and ‘where to’ to the process of ‘how’ to make change. Our approach is informed by Patton and McMahon’s Systems Theory Framework of Career Development, and Bright and Pryor’s Chaos Theory of Careers.
The learning and teaching aspect of our career work is about educating students to put themselves in the driver’s seat to help themselves, learn, think critically and problem-solve drawing on their own skills (encompassing graduate capabilities such as research, communication, initiative ) as well as credible information, advice and support services. It’s about empowering students to manage and work through changes in developing their employability and career, at uni and throughout life.