Career Coaching and Student Success

This video and research brief highlight findings from a recent SPR evaluation on how eight Michigan community colleges participating in the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM), a Round 3 Trade Adjustment Act Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) grantee, helped their students navigate enrollment, decide on an appropriate career pathway, explore work-based learning opportunities, and find appropriate job opportunities. The colleges enrolled nearly 4,000 students, many of whom were attending college for the first time. The evaluation found that career coaches played a key role in helping students to make informed decisions about career options, access college resources, and address life issues impeding training completion. Key evaluation findings include:

  • Embedding career coaches within a college’s advanced manufacturing or industrial technology department helped improve the delivery of coaching services to students because they were physically located close to classrooms.
  • The most successful student engagement strategies incorporated academic assistance such as advising, financial aid assistance, career coaching, and tutoring with non-academic assistance, such as resume writing, job referrals, and supportive service referrals.
  • Building networks with external partners—public workforce system, employer associations, chambers of commerce, and community- and faith-based organizations—helped colleges recruit students, facilitated placement into workforce-based learning opportunities and employment, and created a network of service providers to whom career coaches could make student referrals.
  • Career coaches helped their institutions document training and employment outcomes, an important indicator of student success.
  • Career coaching is labor intensive and requires adequate staffing and funding to sustain.

Career Coaching and Student Success: Michigan’s M-CAM Experience

Cover of Career Coaching Brief This brief explores the role career coaches played in the M-CAM inititative, including the types of services they provided, and the challenges encountered and successes realized by the colleges as they implemented the career coaching model.
Download the Brief



In addition to this issue brief and accompanying video on career coaching services, SPR also prepared issue briefs on the experiences of populations that particularly benefited from intensive career coaching: veterans, older workers, and women, all of whom face distinct challenges as they enter training programs and seek employment. Another issue brief from the M-CAM evaluation explores the practice of awarding credit for prior learning, an area where career coaches can play a vital role in helping students understand the availability and value of obtaining credit for prior learning. These resources, as well as additional issue briefs and videos from the evaluation of the M-CAM program, can be found on our website www.spra.com.