Predictors of Student and Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy Among Nontraditional College Women (Career Counseling)

Historically, many women have lacked confidence in their ability to succeed academically and to pursue career-related tasks (Betz, 1994; Hackett & Betz, 1981). Women who enter or reenter college at nontraditional ages may be particularly at risk for low levels of confidence, which in turn could affect their ability to achieve academically and advance in their vocation. In fact, nontraditional college women often underestimate their skills and ability to succeed in college (Chartrand, 1990). Low self-efficacy as a student and a lack of confidence in career decision making may cause psychological distress (Quimby & O’Brien, in press) and place nontraditional college women at risk for prematurely dropping out of school (Padula, 1994). Thus, the purpose of this study was to gain new knowledge regarding student and career decision-making self-efficacy to assist career counselors in facilitating academic and vocational success among two groups of nontraditional college women. Nontraditional college women have been defined as those women enrolled in college who are over the age of 25 years (Lewis, 1988). Recent enrollment statistics revealed that nontraditional college women constituted 35% of all female students at 4-year colleges and 46% of female students at 2-year colleges (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001). For these women, participation in higher education is often delayed because of homemaking responsibilities (Betz & Fitzgerald, 1987). Some of the most salient reasons that adults give for returning to school are related to career enhancement (Luzzo, 1999) and a desire to contribute to the family, both financially and experientially (Clayton & Smith, 1987).

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