Date of Award

Winter 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educ Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Alan Schwitzer

Committee Member

Peter Baker


Many students report that their main purpose for attending a two- or four-year academic institution is to prepare for a career, and require assistance during the process of selecting a major and career that is appropriate for them. Students who struggle with career indecision often seek help through career counseling and/or computer-assisted career guidance systems. Self-efficacy plays a key role in students' self-esteem and their belief that they can not only choose a career but successfully complete the tasks associated with achieving that career. Students with low career decision self-efficacy may have a higher potential to drop out of college. Despite the growth in career planning support services, little empirical research has been conducted to determine if a link exists between a student's self-efficacy, and his/her age, gender, race and class ranking. Knowing if there is a difference in levels of career decision self-efficacy dependent upon a student's demographic profile or class ranking will assist those who provide career advising and their advisees.

One purpose of this research was to compare the levels of career decision self-efficacy of first year rural community college students to second year students. This study also sought to discover how students of different age groups, genders, majors and race compare in terms of their levels of career decision self-efficacy. Betz & Taylor's (2006) instrument, Career Decision Self—Efficacy Scale Short Form was distributed to students within the spring and summer semester of 2014. These students were enrolled in a Student Development (SDV) orientation, English, Business, or Developmental Mathematics course at one of the two participating rural community colleges in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The information produced from this study has the potential to benefit students as well as it may assist counselors with their advising services as they strive to meet these students' needs.