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Research Paper: Developing multiculturalism in higher education advising/career planning.

Multicultural Development: Academic & Career Advising at a Regional University

Daniel A. Coursey

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

College of Education, Georgia Southern University

EDLD 8525: College Student Development

Dr. Fayth M. Parks

May 3, 2021

Multicultural Development: Academic & Career Advising at a Regional University

Multiculturalism was never the vision for America by the white colonizers who staked claim to this inhabited land two and a half centuries ago. Nevertheless, continued immigration and the enslavement of others has created a land as diverse as it is expansive. As a result, multiculturalism is ingrained in our society's social and systemic framework. Education, in many contexts, is synonymous with enlightenment. Four-year institutions of higher learning have become the pillar of promise for informative and supportive measures toward the endeavor of inclusion. Research suggests that multicultural practices have and continue to significantly impact college student development. Regional comprehensive universities provide access to higher education while also supporting regional economies and civic and cultural life and have the highest proportion among underrepresented students of all four-year schools. Students in such postsecondary educations, having benefited from a multicultural education and the effects of an inclusive campus culture, can then promote such ideals in their vocations and peer interactions, creating systemic change. Suburban areas experience higher population and employment growth than urban areas. In the United States, about 52% of residents identify their neighborhood as suburban. Most of America appears to be suburban, with single-family communities linked by roads to shopping malls and low-rise office buildings.

Multicultural practices are the equitable aim, regional universities are a favorable context, and suburbia statistically represents most of America. Thus, addressing college student developmental implications in a comprehensive university setting in a suburban environment can be a best practice and social change catalyst, and as such, is the purpose of this paper.

Institutional Characteristics

The institutional setting for the purpose of this paper is a public regional university in a U.S. suburb with two main campuses. It is part of a state university system, has a strong research program, and offers a wide range of academic programs, divided among 12 primary colleges and numerous departments. Located in a suburban area, it also serves as a regional/state training center, specifically conducting health, human development, technology, safety, and sustainability research.

The university is a diverse campus, has a nearly equal gender makeup, with roughly a 50% male and female population, with 1% of the student population identified as gender non-conforming. In terms of ethnic diversity, half of the population are white, one-fourth black, one-eighth Latinx, and the remaining percentage are identified as multi-racial or unknown. International students make up roughly two percent of the university population. Twenty percent of students identified as LGBTQ+. Students with disabilities are also included in the campus community. The campus has over 300 student organizations, many culturally based. It also has over twenty fraternities/sororities, and over 15 varsity athletic teams. More than half of the sports teams are women teams. In terms of organizational structure, the University has eleven main administrative divisions: Academic Affairs, Administration, Athletics, Enrollment Services, External Affairs, Fiscal Services, Legal Affairs, Research, Student Affairs, University Advancement, and University Information Technology, in addition to the President's Office. In terms of governance, the University operates under the principle of shared governance. The Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, and Student Government Association consist of elected members who govern their respective constituents. The Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University oversees the academic advising program's administration. Academic deans are directly responsible for the administration of the advising program in their schools. It provides career and internship advising through its Department of Career Planning and Development, a component of its Enrollment Services division and each academic college has a dedicated Career & Internship Advisor with internship/career area expertise.

Functional Areas

"...advisors are uniquely positioned to assist students in making wise academic and career decisions; decisions that can impact the rest of their lives" (McCalla-Wriggins, 2009). Thus, multicultural development might be best framed in academic and career advising theories and applications.

Academic Advising Theories

Although there are no exist true theories of academic advising, there are numerous theories from education and the social sciences which have served as a basis for the changes that have occurred in the field since it became ai informed practice. Student cognitive development, career development, learning, decision-making, multiculturalism, retention, personality, moral development, and adult development are among the many theories that provide a basis for successful academic advising practice. Academic advisors should also be mindful of sociological, organizational, psychosocial, and psychological issues, and person-environment interactions and consider theories of identity formation correlated with race, class, gender, sexuality, and special populations due to increased diversity in the student population.

In terms of psychosocial development, theories proposed by Erikson, Marcia, Josselson, are notable. Erikson identified eight stages of development based on age, each with its own set of issues or developmental activities that must be resolved before moving on to the next stage. The stages of identity versus identity confusion and isolation v. intimacy are the most applicable to conventional students in higher education, as they pertain to those aged 19-40. Marcia, conversely, asserts that the degree to which one has both explored and committed to an identity in a variety of life domains such as politics, profession, faith, personal relationships, friendships, and gender roles is important. Adolescent identity, then, is formed after a period of crisis (examination/exploration) and foundational and goal commitment. Josselson framed her theory around its applicability to women. She looked at the internal variations between the four identity statuses identified by Marcia to see why certain women can overcome their identity crisis while others are unable to do so, describing four diverse "pathways".

Similarly, Chickering suggested that students had seven "vectors" they must complete when establishing their identity and that it is important for students to understand the balance between self-awareness and emotional self-control. His theoretical work is highly applicable to student affairs practice.

Chickering's first vector is to improve one's capacity. Intellectual, manual, and interpersonal competences are among the three forms of competence that college students acquire. Intellectual competence is described as the ability to comprehend, interpret, and synthesize information. Manual competence is the ability to physically complete tasks, while interpersonal competence is the ability to work with others. The ability to control feelings is the second vector. Students in college experience a wide range of emotions, and by completing this vector, they become more conscious of their feelings and how to handle them. Many aspects of college allow students to experience strong emotions such as anxiety, frustration, happiness, and sadness. It is important for students to understand the importance of striking a balance between self-awareness and self-control. The third vector then is the progression from sovereignty to interdependence. Students must learn to function independently and take responsibility for their actions. It is important for students to develop emotional and instrumental autonomy. Emotional freedom refers to a student's willingness to sacrifice relationships with others close to them in order to pursue their own interests. The formation of mature interpersonal relationships is the fourth vector. This necessitates the right to be intimate as well as the acceptance and celebration of individual differences. Students in college could encounter a wide range of people with a wide range of interests, values, and backgrounds. This type of exposure will assist students in developing tolerance for specific differences. The ability to form intimate and meaningful relationships is referred to as intimacy.

The fifth vector is identity establishment and builds on the previous four. This stage of development determines how others view an individual. Finally, the development of one's identity leads to a sense of satisfaction with one's own self and how others perceive one's self. "Identity includes comfort with body and appearance, comfort with gender and sexual orientation, a sense of one's social and cultural heritage, a clear self-concept and comfort with one's roles and lifestyle, a secure sense of self in light of feedback from significant others, self-acceptance and self-esteem, and personal stability and integration" (Patton et al., 2016,p.263). The development of purpose is the sixth vector. Students in college tend to understand why they are pursuing a degree. The goal of getting a job, making a living, and developing skills is created, but the production of purpose goes beyond that. Students learn what gives them motivation and what they find most rewarding through their college experiences. Integrity development is the seventh vector. This vector is linked to the previous one because it refers to students' ability to personalize humanizing ideals and adapt them to their own behavior. Many of the principles that students bring to college are tested in this environment. The desire for students to assemble and practice the principles is the foundation of integrity.

Recommendations for Academic Advisors

The most popular approaches to academic advising are prescriptive advising and developmental advising. Prescriptive advising is a conventional partnership between the academic advisor and the student based on authority and is much like a doctor/patient relationship. The student or "patient" has an "ailment" or problem, and the counselor or 'doctor" makes a diagnosis, prescribes something, or offers advice' about how to fix the problem and expects the student to obey the advice. This does very little to support identity development and personal growth, though.

Instead, developmental advising more closely resembles Chickering's theory, with the advisor/student goals being to develop competence, develop autonomy, and develop purpose in academic planning. Higher education and the advising process will lead to students developing a strategy for personal growth and self-fulfillment in their lives as a result of the counselor and student participating in a series of developmental tasks. "'This active, dynamic interchange that forms the essence of the developmental advising relationship produces trust, curiosity, enthusiastic participation, and a sincere desire to learn and grow'" (Williams, 2012). Advisors work with students to identify personal and professional goals, with the aim of developing purpose and establishing identity. A holistic and/or person-focused approaches seem to be a very best practice. Each goal and/or method should be tailored to meet the needs of every student with diverse identities, recognizing them as an inclusive member in a multicultural environment.

Career Advising Theories

Holland's Theory of Vocational Types emphasizes behavioral style or personality types as a significant factor in the creation of career choices. The term "structurally interactive" is used to explain this. Main tenets of this theory are that occupation preference is a reflection of one's personality rather than a random choice, members of an occupational community have personalities that are similar, people in each group will react to circumstances and challenges in a similar way, and that occupational success, stability, and satisfaction are all dependent on the compatibility of one's personality with one's work environment. Holland "Types" provide a non-overwhelming way for students to become acquainted with the world of work, and a useful method of comprehending a variety of work environments. Holland Theory does not provide advice for interacting with students or insight into how one create/build a "type" but has made a major contribution to career counseling and advancement. Career counselors and student development professionals will help students achieve critical self-awareness by recognizing Holland's emphasis on interests as personality expressions. Holland's Theory is a sort of match-making guideline that promotes career exploration "is congruent with the goals of higher education institutions and student development theories" (Killam & Degges-White, 2017).

Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory revolves around the idea of self-efficacy. Individuals have power over their emotions, feelings, and behavior thanks to the self-system. Self-efficacy beliefs are the most powerful predictor of human behavior among the beliefs in which a person measures control over his or her acts and environment. In essence, a person's inputs (such as gender and race) combine with contextual variables (such as culture and family geography) and learning experiences to affect self-efficacy beliefs and expectations. People's desires, ambitions, attitudes, and, ultimately, their accomplishments are shaped by their self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations. Contextual/environmental considerations, on the other hand, influence job opportunities, training, and financial resources. Providing resources, interactions, and mentors to affect self-efficacy is vital, according to this theory.

Recommendations for Career Advisors

Difficulties in applying theory are often caused by the difficulties of learning concepts in an abstract environment such as a classroom or conference space. As a result, practical application is usually a part of student affairs planning programs. Internships, field work, and graduate assistantships all lead to today's young professional's increased expertise. Despite this, many students have little experience because few campuses can have such preprofessional experiences. There's no guarantee that certain campus environments would closely resemble the current job setting, but research suggests that there are ways of connecting student affairs advisors with on an off-campus resources that could prove beneficial across a wide range of situations.

Psychologist and consultant, Richard OrbAustin, Ph.D., suggests five practical implications for multicultural career counseling that seem applicable in career advising, and seemingly integrate Holland and Bandura concepts. OrbAustin indicates cultural career history, outcome expectations, protected careers and self-efficacy, networking, and awareness of our own cultural bias are main factors. Everyone is born into and socialized within a specific cultural framework. Although career coaching is more directive than personal therapy, a thorough background with a client is still necessary to understand a job seeker's cultural context and how it influences his or her career choice, challenges, and growth. OrbAustin suggests that a career genogram is one tool that can help with this method. The genogram helps the advisor to better understand the client's level of exposure to various occupations and how it has affected his or her career planning. Even if you don't want to use a formal career genogram, it's critical to look over the client's past academic and job histories, to comprehend family standards, and to take cultural background into account.

Cultural background, OrbAustin adds, may also influence their expectations of outcomes related to a career. A job seeker may possess all the skills required for a specific occupation or job, but due to a negative expectation, they are unable to obtain it. He or she can not pursue the role or continue in the profession if certain standards are not satisfied. Thus, some aspect of career advising may entail identifying potential mentors and sharing success stories, which can help one envision and prepare for more positive results. Similarly, in discussing protected careers and self-efficacy, certain occupations have long been fit into a particular context in terms of who they were designed for, such as male nurses or female construction managers. A student's self-efficacy in a particular career field can be encouraged as part of the career advising plan. This could help students extend their career possibilities and seek more fulfilling careers by highlighting career priorities and opportunities outside of "protected" careers.

"One of the most important elements of job search and career advancement is networking. However, while many already have well established networks of family and friends developed over generations, it is critical to assist those who must develop their own professional network. Typically, those from lower socioeconomic statuses and immigrant communities may find it more difficult to connect to professionals in their fields of interest" (OrbAustin). As another way to broaden their network, encourage them to perform informational interviews with experts in their chosen fields. It's important not to assume that people know how to network properly, and role playing can help them gain trust in this area. As advisors, it's understood that there could be unintentional or unrecognized biases, because all people are socialized within our own cultural contexts. As a result, our own biases can show up in the recommendations we make to students or in our expectations of them. The aim is to become mindful of prejudices rather than attempting to eradicate them, which is much more difficult.

The Cawley Career Education Center describes itself as "... a diverse community dedicated to justice and the common good. And notes that the "priority as the career services body... is to achieve excellence by building infrastructure that promotes the well-being of all students in our community and celebrates our diversity" (Georgetown University). In showcasing that commitment, the service center provides specific implications/considerations for career advising on a diverse campus for International Students, LGBTQ Students, Students of Color, Students with Disabilities, Women, Veterans, and Undocumented Students.

Not all internship providers or employers will have an appreciation for diversity. Students should be aware that they have rights in the workplace. Employers who discriminate against their workers based on race, color, national origin, sex, faith, disability, pregnancy, or age are breaking the law. As such, it is of great importance is the discussion of workplace discrimination, what are legal/illegal interview questions and/or employment decisions, and to help students navigate salary negotiations and determine if a potential internship or job is a right fit..

Further, for international students, it is important to understand that Federal law will often dictate what jobs/internships a student on a visa might legally accept. It's important to work with these students to develop a network based on their intentions post-graduation. This includes global employers, those willing to provide sponsorships or submit visa requests, and who are generally well-informed about international/immigrant employees. When advising undocumented students, advisors should explore similar concepts, with specific consideration for Deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) and Alternative Employment Options but understanding what legal obligations or rights may be afforded.

The first step in any job search is to consider what matters most to students. This means first recognizing student identity formation. For members of the LGBTQ community, career advisors should seek to provide answers to all career-related questions. With a welcoming and nonjudgmental atmosphere, provide recommendations for LGBTQ safe locales/employers, ensure students of their right when or to "come out," and help in reviewing potential interview questions and documents for potential experiences or memberships that might disclose LGBTQ status.

Empowering students of color, teaching them to highlight the benefits of their cultural background, providing recommendations for diversity-welcoming employers or professional mentors, organizations, and contacts of color can be crucial to career advising and placement. Similarly, women can benefit from networking with other women in their profession and should be provided resources to deflect discrimination. For students with disabilities, internships and work-experience are important. Helping these students to cultivate relevant experiences, to form a professional network, and to understand their rights and responsibilities are important. Students with disabilities should also be encouraged to determine if/when it would be necessary or prudent to share their disability status. Veterans can also benefit from such practices.


Higher education has long emphasized the development of the entire student--mentally, emotionally, and socially. Many writers and practitioners in student affairs consider a developmental approach to advising as beneficial when it focuses on the individual student's interests, desires, and goals. Culturally diverse students and students with special needs often face difference circumstances, even hardships, and can benefit immensely from advisors' intentional counsel. If there was ever a reason or argument to be made for developmental advising, this is it. "...advisors need to be especially sensitive to the developmental needs of these students. [They] must acknowledge important differences between groups and between individuals" (Gordon, 2019, p.75). By fostering a sense of belonging and community, with an appreciation for difference and diversity, and with facilitating development in mind, academic and career advisors can not only work to remove barriers for individual students, but actively generate systemic and societal change.


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