Least Valued, Highest Value: Student Career Planning

Career planning is often minimized during high school to a few school English papers, a local career fair and a questionable career test. However, choosing a career direction is one of the most important decisions that students will make. Without proper career planning, many students take 5-6 years to complete a degree. We also see many students who didn’t do much career planning receiving degrees in declining growth fields or fields with a surplus of applicants and having difficulty finding employment after graduation. This data is not improving with the growth of high school site-licensed web-based offerings. The services offered at college counseling and placement offices is also not improving the situation.

Proper and intentional career planning while in high school plays a critical role in reducing the overall cost of college and increases a students self-esteem and academic success. A contributing factor in the college dropout and transfer rates is a lack of career planning and the failure to make college decisions based on career goals. Research by the US Department of Education (DOE) and American College Testing show that each year, about 50% of college freshman leave the college in which they first enrolled. Of the dropouts, about 30% transfer to other colleges at least once, and 20% transfer twice and typically take 6 or more years to complete a 4-year program.

Students who receive career planning prior to college choice and attendance have fewer changes in college major and fewer college transfers, graduate on time, and tend to be more goal- and academic-focused. Why is that? These students know themselves better than their peers. They also have focused on a career (or career options) that matches their talents. This “match” creates enthusiasm and passion to achieve a future that the student has defined. When you know what you want and you know how to get it, doing the work required to reach your goal is much easier.

So what does an effective career planning program produce:

  1. Significantly greater self awareness, an understanding of a person’s talent beyond the feedback given in school
  2. Valid and reliable career-focused assessments that give the student useful information about their talent
  3. A clear connection between a person’s talent and possible career choices that will produce satisfaction and success
  4. Implementation of strategies for learning about high-potential career choices
  5. Implementation of strategies for learning about educational options to support high-potential career options
  6. Developing clear action steps that the student is able to execute independently without outside motivation

Myths that create problems years later
Career coaching is something students will have access to in high school or at college
Investing in career coaching for a student is not necessary
Academically high achieving students don’t need career coaching
Average academic students don’t need career coaching
Future success is dependent on how well you do in school

A person who has chosen a path they are passionate about will be much more likely to experience high levels of satisfaction and success
Students who have a clear and positive future-view do better in all areas – academically, overcoming personal obstacles, relationships, etc.
A student who takes personal accountability for their future is more likely to succeed

There are many web-based career planning sites being implemented at high schools across the country. A few of the programs are Kuder, Naviance and Bridges Career Choices. There are others. They all provide a similar set of features.  A program that is different is Career Coaching for Students™. This is a program that utilizes “career coaching” as its foundational center and uses assessments for career matching and enhancing self-awareness. The guidebook provides a step-by-step approach so that any parent, coach, counselor or teacher can deliver the content and support the student. Consequently it is effective as an in-home parent-student self-directed program or as a student-parent workshop with a professionally trained facilitator coach or as a semester class. The semester curriculum can be integrated into an existing school program. Student workshops are held in various cities around the U.S. and each of the licensed facilitators offer one-on-one programs as well.

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