In an article recently published in the NACADA Journal, PhD Coordinator for Student and Academic Affairs Katelyn Talbott shares her research on online career change master's degree students. The article is the offshoot of Talbott’s PhD dissertation, which explored the motivations for career change for students enrolled in an online MS degree program and what advising services, career development services, and admissions services these students used while enrolled.
In "Online Graduate Career Changers: Motivations and Use of Academic and Career Advising Services and Resources," Talbott discusses her case study of career change students in online MSLIS and MS in Human Resources synchronous programs. Through surveys of students currently enrolled in the programs and interviews with those who directly supported the students, she found that the services used most by online career change students were: (1) one-on-one advising appointments; and (2) on-demand content, such as websites, videos, and newsletters.
"One finding that surprised me was the importance that students placed on orientation," said Talbott. "A majority of the respondents were not in their first semester of the program, and they still commented about how much orientation helped them to be confident in their decision to career change, allowed them to make connections with their online peers, and provided them with resources and contacts."
Talbott's recommendations to staff who advise online career change students include responding to these students in a timely fashion, making themselves available for advising appointments, holding an orientation, and evaluating their services and programs.
"The iSchool is committed to student success. Just as the intersection of people, technology, and data represents the core of our School's research, our Student Affairs team uses the same interdisciplinary triptych to support students," she said. "Even before the world went completely online due to COVID-19, our online MSLIS program provided a robust orientation experience and meaningful connections with advisors, faculty, and peers throughout a student's program."