Counseling Leads to Higher Education Success

For both students interested in completing a degree and those pursuing an advanced degree, higher education offers a lot of opportunity accompanied by a lot of decisions to be made. Often navigating through the system is complicated; however, academic counseling can provide the best compass for finding the right pathway. Counseling steers students toward the most efficient, effective education pathways to create success.

Student success is just the beginning of why counseling is an important part of a higher education. Individual success leads to a skilled workforce that builds businesses that strengthen the economy. “Higher education programs have become our biggest and most effective jobs program,” said Anthony Carnevale in his testimony before the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

In his testimony Carnevale, the Director of the Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workforce, says that both higher education and the economy are much more complicated than they were in the past. He explains that there are more occupations, programs choices for students, more colleges and universities and more students than ever before. Since 1950:
• the number of occupations in the labor market has grown from 270 to 840
• The number of colleges and universities has grown from 1,800 to 4,700
• the number of students enrolled in colleges and universities has grown from 2 million to 20 million
and since 1985 the number of postsecondary programs has grown from 400 to 2,300.

Academic counseling is important for several reasons. First, data from the Center for Community College Student Engagement shows that students who receive academic counseling are more engaged in their academic experience. They are more engaged with their school work and instructors, leading to academic success.

Academic counseling also helps students to clearly define their goals, based on their expectations for their education. Most students work towards degree completion or advanced degrees to improve the financial outcomes of their jobs. Setting a career goal may be one of the most important aspects of academic counseling. “Evidence indicates that students who establish their career goals while still in college, irrespective of whether they enter that career, are more successful—1) they graduate earlier, 2) have better grades, 3) are retained in larger numbers, and 4) are more satisfied with their education,” says Gary Matkin of the University of California, Irvine.

In addition, academic counseling can help students find the best academic path to complete or advance their higher education. For working adults time is an important factor. With family and work responsibilities placing demands on their time, these students need to be sure they are taking the correct courses in the correct sequence so their education path is the most efficient. Counseling that can help them receive the maximum number of transfer credits from prior education saves students time and money. Counseling can be extremely valuable for students when it helps them move forward by receiving credit for prior learning or work experience, and utilize competency-based education programs. And the time-saving advantage counseling gives students also extends to employers who need to quickly find workers with important skills.

The old rule of thumb of go to college, graduate and get a job aren’t enough for today’s complex economy and higher education system, says Carnevale. Today’s students need more than that – especially today’s nontraditional students and working adults. Academic counseling helps students define their goals and make the choices that help them achieve the goals. “Learners and workers need a clear guidance system that will help them make good decisions about college and career that lead to fulfilling, purposeful lives while supporting their families.”