Study Confirms Positive Impact on Student Attitudes About Careers With BigFuture

While career is a strong driver for students making decisions about their future, many high school students lack a clear understanding of how to achieve their desired career goals, especially right after graduation. All students, but especially underrepresented students, need better exposure to career possibilities, making career information and activities crucial. How can students aspire to careers they don't even know exist? 

College Board’s BigFuture aims to help all students confidently take the first step after high school. We believe the best way to do this is by helping students see their options and plan the steps to reach their long-term goals. BigFuture offers a starting point with a career quiz, which helps students find 30 potential careers that align with their interests. Additionally, Career Search offers over 1,000 career profiles at various education levels with details on job requirements, projected salaries, and growth potential.

We set out to understand the impact of these career navigation tools by conducting a mixed methods study with over 1,000 students. Using surveys and student interviews, the goal was to learn more about how the tools are impacting student outcomes, such as career-related confidence, goal setting, and career exposure. 

The biggest takeaway: After engaging with BigFuture, most students felt positive about career exploration. 

More specifically, students reported:

  1. Increased awareness about careers. The tools significantly increased student awareness, successfully broadening students’ exposure to potential career options.
  2. Improved goal-setting attitudes. This survey finding suggests that students’ use of the tools successfully encouraged them to begin identifying possible career-related goals.
  3. Increased optimism and motivation. More than 65% of students reported feeling hopeful and motivated about exploring their future careers. Additionally, 72% expressed interest in the careers suggested. 
  4. Satisfaction with navigation and information. 74% of students found the information provided relevant to their personal interests. Additionally, 91% of students found the career tools easy to use and understand. Students were particularly grateful for the convenience in accessing high-quality information about careers in one place. 
  5. Eagerness for more information. Most students (80%) intend to come back to BigFuture for many reasons, including retaking the career quiz, exploring more information, and utilizing other resources in planning and paying for college. 

At the same time, the research provided insight into areas for improvement. For example, most students viewed a feature named Career Readiness Score that helped them connect their academic skills to occupational skills as an indicator of their preparedness, skill set, and likelihood of success in the job. The feature was renamed "Career Insights," with context on how to use and interpret the tool. 

There is still more work to be done. Findings indicate that the career tools have different impacts on student outcomes, depending on where a student is in their career planning journey, academic achievement, and career-related attitudes and beliefs. Additionally, the tools were more impactful with students who reported feeling stressed and had not yet begun exploring careers, compared to students who were less stressed and/or already exploring potential careers. These results, and others, emphasize the importance of a personalized experience. 

The research was helpful in demonstrating how BigFuture is supporting high school students in their journey toward postsecondary education and career success.