Nawal Majeed and Rafeef Dahir, Sharjah Higher College of Technology
Reprinted with permission
Every academic year, approximately 500 new students enroll at Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology pursuing their higher education in one of the top colleges in the Arabian Gulf region. The students, all female United Arab Emirates (UAE) nationals, come mainly from public schools within the Northern Emirates; most have weak academic and life skills. Within the first academic year, these students are faced with challenges that include making the transition from high school to college, studying in a foreign language, choosing their major of study, and functioning in a very different cultural and social environment. Under such circumstances, making the right choices can be an overwhelming experience. To address student needs, the career and academic advisors teamed together to develop a program that supports and ensures student persistence and success.
The program, Career Coach, comprises a series of personal and career developmental workshops supported by a powerful, interactive e-profile tool. Each class, in year one, attends a weekly hour workshop with a counselor to address one of the Career Coach themes. The workshops revolve around three main themes: Self Exploration, Life Skills, and the Job Search Process. In their first semester, students participate in a series of workshops to explore their personal styles, values, characteristics, and learning styles. Students are introduced to college life, academic expectations, rules and regulations in an attempt to support them as they settle in their new environment. In the second semester, workshops are aimed at supporting students personal and academic development with sessions that revolve around building self esteem, setting goals, time management, communication skills and style, team work, assessment management and presentation skills.
As students advance through the workshops, they discover and reflect upon valuable personal information that can be utilized at different stages of their academic lives and career choices. To help students retain this information, an electronic profile was developed where students can answer questionnaires related to each subject and gain personalized feedback based on their answers. The feedback highlights their strengths and encourages the development of action plans to overcome any weaknesses they may have discovered. The interactive nature of the e-profile allows students to gain individual feedback that can help tailor decisions to their own personal needs and preferences. In turn, this helps students make educated decisions about the major that they would like to pursue at the end of their first year.
The delivery of the workshops is conducted in a friendly and relaxed environment that encourages student involvement and interaction. Scheduling of the workshops for all new students provides counselors with the opportunity to bond with students and tackle issues of concern. The workshops have become so popular that students have requested that they be offered in their second year at college. To meet this need, new workshops were developed to help students cope with the pressure of their chosen majors and develop leadership skills. As students develop each year, they are encouraged to revisit their electronic profile to re-evaluate their skills and update their profile as needed. Before entering their senior year, students complete the Self Exploration and Life Skills sections of the Career Coach before embarking upon the Job Search Process.
Completion of the first two sections provides students with the opportunity to become more aware of their individual personalities, attitudes, aspirations and vocational interests. In their senior year, students are scheduled to attend workshops that cover the job search process. These workshops are intended to prepare students for the work place. The workshops introduce students to job search skills and the e-profile allows them to reflect upon their readiness to begin the process. The aim is to ensure that all students are aware of effective job search techniques. By working through the e-profile, they identify the areas that need further development and can seek individual support from the counselor.
Students who complete the program have come full circle in the career exploration cycle. By completing the cycle, they are well aware of their personality styles and are well equipped with life skills and the techniques needed to rigorously enter the job market upon graduation.
Not only does the e-profile benefit students, it is also an excellent tool that can be utilized by the academic advisors when students come for individual advising sessions. The profile allows advisors to have in-depth information regarding each student.
Approximately 1000 first-year students have completed the Career Coach program. Although it is difficult to separate all the factors that contribute to student success, students who have completed the program have reported in focus groups that the program helped them settle into college life, build effective personal skills, and set a course of action for future careers.
Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology
Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology
Cite this article using APA style as: Majeed, N. & Dahir, R. (2006, December). The career coach: Ensuring student success at the Sharaj Higher College of Technology, United Arab Emirates. Academic Advising Today, 29(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]