Drop-out rates among university students who give up their studies within 12 months have gone up for the third year in a row, according to official UK statistics.*
A lack of awareness of their real interests and sources of professional motivation, under or overestimated abilities, or a misunderstanding of envisaged careers are the main causes for choosing the wrong course.
Some measures can be taken to stop students dropping out in the first years of study, and to instead help guide them towards a successful path and integration into the world of work.
What are the key factors needed for students to be on a successful path?
1. Encouraging students’ interests and motivations
It often happens that students make plans for the future that do not suit their personality or interests. They may not have the time or the tools, on their own, to really reflect on themselves or their aspirations. To help them make more enlightened choices, schools and universities have an important role to play in guiding students as they explore their real professional interests and motivations.
Young people’s professional plans are often based on expectations linked to their social and family environments, or a desired salary level. By encouraging them to explore their interests and motivations, higher education can help them to consider what the relevant criteria for building solid professional plans are, and give them a broader picture. Is one of the precepts of ancient philosophy not: ‘know thyself’?
2. Better defining each student’s potential
In order to target a successful career path, it is essential not only to identify the students’ interests and motivations, but also to help them define their potential.
This means helping young people to gain an awareness of their strengths and areas for improvement on a professional level. This is a major key when it comes to matching their potential to the requirements of their envisaged careers.
In order for students to really consider these aspects, practical workshops or encouraging students to talk and discuss among themselves about the perceived strengths of each other’s profiles, may be involved.
Having an awareness of their potentials will become even more important in the long term. This is because being able to identify and communicate their strengths, i.e. their personal ‘added value’, is an asset that will help students stand out more when they enter the job market.
3. Evaluation tools as guidance levers
In order to guide students as best as possible, it is essential to be able to match their professional interests and potential to the required capacities for the targeted project and their specialisation. Using adapted evaluation tools is a key part of this. The results provide specific and reliable ways to analyse their profile and suitability to the career plan.
For example, a student wishing to take a Master’s in Finance to become a financial manager will need to have a good capacity for interpreting data, and a meticulous and ordered way of working must appeal to them. A digital reasoning test, along with a vocational interests test would be an ideal way to evaluate their suitability to the career plan, and therefore to confirm or contradict their choice of path.
Today, psychometric evaluations are key tools in guiding students to choose the course and career best suited for them, and for really helping them to flourish in their professional life.
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