Shehane, Michael Edward (2017-10). Career Development for Undecided Latino/a College Students: A Phenomenological Study. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This study explored the experience of being undecided about academic majors for Latino/a college students who were changing their academic majors (i.e., major changers). Findings provide fresh insights for career development (CD) professionals who wish to assist this student population. Four problems drove the purpose of this study: (a) There is a dearth of CD literature focusing on Latinos/as, (b) Latino/a enrollment in degree-granting institutions is increasing but their degree completion lags behind other groups, (c) there is a shortage of research specifically related to Latino/a college students who are undecided about academic majors, and (d) CD professionals must understand this student group's experience of being undecided in order to serve these students. Phenomenology was selected as the methodology for this qualitative study. Data were collected from 11 participants through two separate rounds of interviews and an open-ended questionnaire. Participants met four main criteria: undecided about an academic major, self-identified as Latino/a, freshman or sophomore status, and changing the academic major at a 4-year, bachelor degree-granting institution of higher education. Data were analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis techniques. Research findings yielded four superordinate emergent themes: (a) motivators for attending college, (b) selection of original major, (c) reasons for indecision, and (d) impact of being undecided. Each superordinate theme included four to seven subthemes. Seven conclusions were drawn from examining the experience of being undecided about academic majors for Latino/a college students: (a) Exploration is key, (b) family influence is prominent, (c) racial and ethnic identity intersects CD, (d) balancing expectations and personal desires is difficult, (e) balancing financial need and personal desires is difficult, (f) first-generation students face added complexity, and (g) Latina students face added complexity. Recommendations for human resource development practice, theory, and research were presented.

publication date

  • December 2017