YouPitt: Using Behaviorally-Informed Advising to Personalize Career Pathways for Pre-Health Students


A large subset of first-year students entering the University of Pittsburgh declare an interest in pre-health careers. However, historical data analysis reveals that only about 25% of these students continue on to finish all required pre-health courses. Interviews with pre-health advising suggest two prominent profiles of students who leave the track: those who switch after the first semester, and those who problematically overpersist, delaying the decision to leave until later in their undergraduate career. Advising can help students begin exploring alternatives earlier; however, within large universities, advisors may have an overwhelming caseload of students, making it difficult to provide individualized attention.

We propose a data-driven approach to support pre-health advisors in giving major selection and career planning advice to students who may be considering exploring alternatives. By tailoring major and career advice to personalized student profiles informed by motivational measures based in psychology and the learning sciences, as well as university historical data, advisors' guidance can be more personalized to each student, which we hypothesize has the ability to increase student take-up of advising recommendations.