The Relationship Between Selecting A Career Path and the Second-Year Experience

Second-year, or sophomore, students face a wide array of developmental, academic, and institutional struggles. As part of these struggles, many students may face uncertainty regarding their major and career choices. This lack of academic and career direction can lead to difficulty building academic connections, a lack of commitment, and can inhibit student success.

To that end, this research note explores the concept of career commitment, specifically through a Mapworks survey question asking whether or not students have selected a career path. This note explores the relationships between second-year students selecting a career path and the various aspects of the academic experience.

Key questions:

  1. How many sophomore students have a selected a career path? and
  2. How does selecting a career path relate to the second-year student experience?

Key points:

  • The majority of second-year students indicate that they have selected a career path.
  • Second-year students who have chosen a career path are more likely to report being satisfied with their social lives, academic experience, and their institution.

Almost two-thirds of second-year respondents who had selected a career path were satisfied with their academic life, compared 53% of sophomore students who had not chosen a career path.

How Many Second-year students Have Selected a Career Path?

Data from the Fall 2014 transition survey containing responses from over 17,000 sophomore students was analyzed. 63% of respondents indicated that they had selected a career path, compared to 37% of sophomore students who indicated that they had not. Furthermore, of those who indicated that they had selected a career path, 80% responded that they were extremely committed to it.

Relationship between Career Path Selection and the Academic Experience

For second-year students, having selected a career path was positively related higher scores across factors compared to those who have not yet selected a career path. This suggests that second-year students who have an idea of what they want to do after college make more connections with faculty members, integrate themselves more socially, show greater levels of self-discipline, and overall are more satisfied with their institution.

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