Connecting academic and career planning

Over the past weeks, you have heard a lot about how Terra State is using this year’s Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) scores to evaluate how we do things. And while our scores in all five benchmark areas were higher this year than in 2013, we aren’t satisfied. We want to ensure all students are engaged because in general an engaged student is more successful than a non-engaged student.

This week, I would like to lay out how we plan to address another score that is lower than we would like – the use of college services, specifically academic advising/planning and career counseling. In the 2016 CCSSE results, 36.3 percent of students surveyed responded that they rarely/never or don’t know if they used the college’s academic advising/planning resources. On the surface that is not a bad percentage, but when you stop and think about it, this means that about 1/3 of our students are not seeking help with their academic plan.

Some of you might be thinking, “Maybe they already know what they want to take at Terra State” or even “Why does is matter – academic plans are easy enough, take the courses you need to graduate.” But in reality the process of creating an academic plan is multi-faceted and should take into consideration more things than just what classes are required. From financial obligations to internships, an academic plan can help a student stay on track when things don’t go as expected and help them accelerate their success when they do.

The results for career counseling are far worse – 80.7 percent of surveyed students said they rarely/never or don’t know if they have used the college’s career counseling services. If you thought the 1/3 from the last question wasn’t too bad then this should grab your attention – over 3/4 of our students are not utilizing career counseling. We want to know why and how to solve this disconnect between academic planning and career planning.

Dr. Kristen Lindsay, Director of Advising and Student Success, has already made this her top priority. The first simple change she implemented was tracking advising because this was not really done in the past. Tracking will allow the college to compare measurable data moving forward.

Another change that has occurred is identifying and training professional academic and career advisors (located in Roy Klay Hall Suite 100) along with part-time faculty academic and career advisors that have a direct connection with incoming students through their GEN1000 or First-year seminar course. The instructors of these courses are the students’ first-year advisor and work with them to create a complete academic plan as part of the coursework. The goal is for every student to have an academic plan that has been vetted through a trained academic and career advisor.

Ann Sergent – Academic and Career Advisor

If you are familiar with Terra State services, you may have noticed a change in how we refer to these advisors. No longer are they academic advisors, they are now officially academic and career advisors. This change highlights our goal of connecting the students’ degree with occupation options. According to Dr. Lindsay, “Degree planning should not be addressed in a vacuum, rather it should be connected to professional and life goals.”

By combining these areas, we expect to help students have more success inside the classroom and in achieving their goal of gainful employment. Now, they can build a connection with a trained professional on campus who can help with both of these areas.

This October, the Academic and Career Advising department is holding its first Advising Open House. Students, faculty, staff and the general public can stop in to meet the advisors, learn important advising and career information, ask questions, and find resources to help them be successful. Two dates/times are available and both will be in Roy Klay Hall Suite 100.

Tuesday, October 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday, October 19 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This event is free and no reservations are required.

The Academic and Career Advising department has many more plans to help every student be prepared. These will be shared in a future story and we can’t wait to see the impact they have on the success of our students at Terra State!

For a complete list of academic and career advisors, please contact the Admissions office at