Valencia College, a public college with campuses in Orlando and other parts of central Florida, is a subscriber of Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center. We recently had the pleasure to speak with Lianna McGowan, Faculty, New Student Experience, and librarians Courtney Moore and Chris Wettstein about how they use Ferguson’s—specifically in their New Student Experience (NSE) course.
NSE students at Valencia College are just launching their college career, and the use of Ferguson’s helps them think in terms of how their college experience will ultimately lead toward a career path. We were intrigued to learn more about their unique and innovative course and how they leverage this award-winning career database for student success.
Here is the beginning of our conversation. Read the full Q&A.
To begin, what exactly is the New Student Experience course?
The New Student Experience is a required credit-earning course at Valencia College. It boasts the highest enrollment at the college—as of the summer of 2020, 90,000 students have taken the course. Students do a lot of research about their strengths, their interests in life, their personal values, and how those align with their educational and career goals. We find that, as students enter college, they’re still trying to find themselves and are not necessarily sure what they want as their major or what they want to do after they graduate.
With the New Student Experience Course, we help to acclimate them to college life and beyond. The NSE course covers major topics such as college study skills and college success skills—those are really important—including how to take tests, how to read for assignments, how to interact with professors. We also cover financial literacy and go over educational planning. Students have the opportunity to map out the courses they’re going to take at Valencia and that they’ll take after they transfer to their four-year university or after they get their associate’s degree. We have them map out their entire educational process.
And of course, there’s the career exploration component, and that is a major focus of the course. We have students research their careers and do assessments that will identify which careers might be best for them. There’s typically a library visit where we go over the Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center database with them. In addition, purpose is really big. We try to tie purpose into students’ goals for life, their goals for their education, and their goals for their career. Everything is intertwined together.
At the end of the semester, we have what is called the final story project, which brings together all of the major topics we covered over the semester. It’s a presentation where students envision themselves 8–10 years from now—when they’re already in their dream job and they’ve already graduated—and they take us through their life once they’ve achieved their education and career goals.