Tag Archives: career orientation class

Career Mapping Catching on in High Schools


The article Career Mapping Eyed to Prepare Students for College by Caralee J.  Adams, reviews the current state of high school student preparation strategies for researching and making career choices. I’ve pulled a few quotes and provided some comments and insights into what the reality of today’s efforts are producing.

Secondary schools are becoming more intentional about helping students discover their career interests and map out a plan to achieve them.

This effort is only as good as the foundational approach. As the article suggests, “Finding time during the school day can be a challenge, and the job of overseeing the process often falls on already stretched counselors, according to researchers and program administrators.” The assessments that schools use (see comment further down about Naviance) are not valid and can not be used in the work world to match people and jobs. Students recognize these issues quickly and consequently dismiss the entire exercise as a “waste of time”.

About half of all states mandate that schools help create individual or student learning plans, and most others have optional programs.

A student learning plan is something schools have been providing since student guidance counseling was created. Designing and attaching a student learning plan to a career direction is not something that should be done until high school. Mandating this activity has not created any measurable change that can be associated with increased post-secondary education, higher GPA or better test scores.

Enabling students to make their own plans puts them in the driver’s seat and encourages a long-term look at their course selection so their choices match their career goals, experts say.

The key here is “match their career goals”. A high school student is not equipped to make sense of the assessment results and do not have the necessary knowledge about different career paths to make decisions about career direction on their own. Schools do the best they can to expose students to different career areas but it is a shot gun approach that results in students feeling lost and/or overwhelmed.

Often, districts give students online accounts with passwords to track classes; create an electronic portfolio of grades, test scores, and work; research careers; and organize their college search.

These online accounts, including the one mentioned in the article, Naviance, have been around long enough to measure their effectiveness. Ask any student, and I really mean any student, that attends a high school with Naviance (or other online solutions) and ask them how they used Naviance. The answer I receive is “I didn’t.” or “It wasn’t helpful at all.“.

Schools, meanwhile, have not yet experienced the payback on their investment. As with many education programs, the rollout is left up to districts, creating a patchwork of approaches throughout the country.

This is a great “excuse” for the companies such as Naviance and the school administrators. A person I respect who works with at risk kids and served on a school’s trustee board and knows Naviance very well stated the online solution was “used only to help students get into a preferred college” – not to help them identify and focus on career direction.

Students create plans starting as early as the 6th grade. Of course, they can—and often do—change their minds about their career path. …Typically, a student might have a career-exploration unit in 7th grade. Through an interest inventory, in which the student answers a series of questions about preferences for working, say, with people or numbers, indoors or outside, his or her interests are matched with career clusters and pathways.

Childhood development studies clearly show that a student’s behavioral style and motivators are being established through middle school. The motivators (personal values) are set earlier. Behavioral style is in “wet cement” as students enter high school. The behavioral style and motivators are key to aligning a person’s “talent” to career options. Therefore, serious career exploration and career mapping is not useful until high school. Schools need to use a broader “exposure” strategy until high school. In high school, the focus needs to be at the individual level. That is where true career coaching is most effective. Also, did I mention the assessments used in school are not valid and reliable.

Knowing that high school students today connect best with online materials, the College Board recently launched a new interactive college-planning site, the BigFuture.org. And U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., recently introduced a bill to pilot a project in which students beginning in 1st grade could start portable online college-planning and -savings accounts.

Students connect best with online materials? Give me a very talented teacher and the student will choose the teacher over online every time. The issue may not be the “preference for online materials” but rather a rejection of low quality teaching. With respect for Senator Coons, if we want to make college more affordable, fund the use of career coaching programs like Career Coaching for Students™  that are known to reduce the risk of changing majors in college and provide a student with an exciting personal future view that leverages their motivational and behavioral career match.

Todd Bloom, the chief academic officer for Hobsons, the Cincinnati-based company that produces Naviance, an online career- and college-readiness system, said the depth and breadth of individual learning plans are expanding, and the cost can run less than $5 per student per year. “It’s not a hard sell,” he said. “It’s socially desirable to have that vehicle. ”

And here you have the issue. School boards look at their budget and what they are “required” to provide and see online systems like Naviance as an “easy” solution to implement. Parents that are aware of the offering assume it is providing something helpful. The saying “you get what you pay for” is very applicable here. There is no hard data that shows any ROI on these “low cost” online system solutions like Naviance.

Yet a goal of the program was to increase high school graduation rates and that did not happen, said Jay Ragley, the director of the office of legislative affairs for the state. “It’s difficult to peg why we are not increasing graduation rates. That goal has still eluded the state,” he said, adding that it’s been a challenge to get parents used to the idea of career planning as early as middle school.

Until parents demand and receive better solutions in schools, I strongly recommend engaging a career coach for your high school student – as early as incoming HS Freshman rank and no later than the beginning of the Sophomore year.

Side Note from the trenches: We’ve approached school districts about integrating the Career Coaching for Students™ program as part of a high school curriculum. This program can easily fit into one class per week for a semester with other classes referencing parts of the program throughout the four years of high school. Students have access to the online career and education research tools throughout the four years. The most common statement we received as feedback: “Wow! This is exactly what we need. If we had this, we’d push our “online-only system” to middle school and have this for all of our HS students.” Our response to that: “Great! What is the next step to make this happen?” Reply: “Oh no, we’re too invested in what we have now. To go back to the school board and say we’ve got something better would not work out well for us. And besides, we know we won’t receive more funding to cover a more expensive solution.

Carl Nielson is a professional career coach, creator of the nationally recognized program Career Coaching for Students™ and managing principal of The Nielson Group, a management consulting firm specializing in hiring and selection, team effectiveness and executive coaching.

Fear of Failure, Success, the Unknown: Which One Controls You?


Your key to successFear of Failure. Fear of Success. Fear of the Unknown. Any of these can be the handcuffs for teens looking at the future and wondering what it holds. What career direction should I pursue? What educational strategy is best for me? What college should I choose? Any of these questions can play an invisible role in hindering pursuit of our potential.

High school academics doesn’t reveal much when it comes to identifying those that have a fear that hinders their success. A student can excel in academics, even be labeled “most likely to succeed” by their class mates. Yet, we see many of these enter college, change majors multiple times and procrastinate as they approach college graduations.

Teens that are academically performing at a level lower than their potential may also be challenged with fear. Today’s educational system allows just about anyone to excel if they have the ambition. Most students are very bright and capable regardless of their academic standing. If they missed developing the foundation for success in reading, writing, math, it is harder to show academic excellence but that does not change the fact that they are likely very bright.

If fear is playing a role in limiting a person future, it is helpful to understand which fear it might be. Fear of success, fear of failure and fear of the unknown are reviewed in this article. A few strategies are also offered for conquering the fear.

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is related to fear of criticsim and rejection. Successful people see failure as simple feedback and nothing more. Unsuccessful people or those not moving forward look at mistakes as permanent and personal.

Most people self-limit themselves. They don’t achieve a fraction of what they are capable of achieving because they fear they will fail.

Fear of Success

Fear of success can be just as paralyzing as fear of failure. Many people fear success because it tests their limits and makes them vulnerable to new situations. Even worse, success can expose weaknesses and force people to deal with their flaws.   Success is scary because it involves change.

For people with a fear of success, the internal feelings when thinking about the possibility of success are very close to what is felt when we are failing at something. Success can be intimidating and hard to handle. With success comes more challenges and responsibilities – and that can be threatening.

Sometimes people fear success because they don’t know if they can live up to their achievements. They don’t think they’re good enough or smart enough. They’re afraid they don’t have what it takes to rise to the challenge, and they don’t know if they can sustain their success.

There is another condition that feeds the fear of success. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that the road to success involves risks such as “getting one’s hopes up” – which threatens to lead to disappointment. And many of us-especially if we’ve been subject to verbal abuse-have been told we were losers our whole lives, in one way or another. We have internalized that feedback and feel that we don’t deserve success. Even those of us who were not abused or otherwise traumatized often associate success with uncomfortable things such as competition.  Take a simple Fear of Success quiz.

Fear of the Unknown

Fear of the unknown is a peculiar condition in most of us, where we find ourselves freezing up as we think of embarking upon something we are not acquainted with.  Fear of the unknown can leave a person in a frozen status. They are afraid of entering and exploring the new ground, because they think they might get in trouble. They are afraid of losing what they already have by jumping into the unknown.

Fear of the unknown is a common phenomenon with young people, when they don’t wish to accept or pursue anything unfamiliar. There is a certain safety radar in our body that keeps us alarmed of the various dangers that come into our life.  These safety limits are learned during our growing years as a child.

While as a child we were often restricted by our parents or taught to fear unusual situations. We then become apprehensive about meeting anything new and foreign. This fear, in a way, restricts an individual into a particular fenced area of the “known”, depriving him from the excitement of meeting the future with enthusiasm.

If allowed to persist, the fear can ultimately lead to a very restricted lifestyle, devoid of the various essences in life. They know what they should be doing, but they can’t take action because they think there is a risk involved with this big life transition.

The Internal Conflict Between What You Want and What You Already Have

Yes, you will be leaving your well known life and begin to embrace a totally new lifestyle. But, here’s something that’s worth thinking about: Aren’t you already in trouble? What urged you to search for your true passion? Aren’t you hungry for a meaning in your life? Aren’t you already feeling the fear of being lost and wandering aimlessly through life lacking a real purpose? Are you happy with the idea of doing work that has no meaning and wasting your precious time doing something that doesn’t really matter to you?

Be Smart About FearSo what can you do?

If you think you have a fear of failure, start looking at life with a new paradigm: there is no failure, only feedback. The only way we learn is through trial and error experience. The only way you have learned anything is through mistakes. The only way to be successful is to learn (fail).

To overcome the fear of failure, first take action. Bold, decisive action.  Fear of failure immobilizes you. To overcome this fear, you must act. When you act, act boldly.   Action gives you the power to change the circumstances or the situation. You must overcome the inertia by doing something. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? As the Nike commercial says, just do it. If it doesn’t work out the way you want, then do something else. But DO SOMETHING NOW. Second, be persistant. Successful people just don’t give up. They keep trying different approaches to achieving their outcomes until they finally get the results they want. Third, don’t take failure personally. Failure is about behavior, outcomes, and results. Failure is not a personality characteristic. Fourth, do things differently. If what you are doing isn’t working, do something else. There is an old saying, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” If you’re not getting the results you want, then you must do something different. And finally, look for possible opportunities that result from the experience. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, says “every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.” Look for the opportunity and the benefit.

If you think you have a fear of success, first differentiate between feelings of excitement (positive) and a “trauma reaction.” Think of a time in your past when you were very successful. Recall your body’s physical response. Perhaps your heart rate was up. What other physical responses can you recall? Now think of a time when you failed and the failure was a public embarrassment. What was your body’s physical response? What we’ve found is that failure (stress) and success (excitement) produce similar physical reactions in our body. So differentiate your feelings of success as positive, not negative.

Second, look for actions or behaviors that are self-sabotaging. For example, partying or watching TV the night before the big exam or presentation at school, or you somehow always ruin the opportunity for a good night’s sleep. Third, stop procrastinating. Putting projects, assignments, or duties off while you take care of non-essential fluff or “make-work” chores can be a sign of fear of success. If you putter around instead of taking care of business, you may be subconsciously sabotaging yourself.

Fourth,  stop talking about it and start doing. Sometimes certain behaviors look like laziness, but they reveal a fear of success. For instance, you may talk about your life dreams and goals all the time, but you watch TV every night and surf the Internet for hours every day. You never actually take practical steps or exert self-discipline to move in the direction of your goals.

And last, stop creating negative, pessimistic talk. Fear of success can involve an extremely negative perspective of life. “What’s the point of dressing up for the job interview? I probably won’t get it anyway.” Not trying – and focusing on all the things that can go wrong – is self-sabotaging behavior.

If you think you have a fear of the unknown, first know this type of fear is not that fatal to an individual, yet it should definitely be remedied in order to enjoy a healthy life. For that, first of all, we have to turn the unfamiliar into the familiar.

This can be successfully achieved through meditation and by playing upon our imagination. Our mind does not care for any restriction. Neither does our imagination. Our thoughts and imagination, if applied, can definitely solve much of the problem of the fear of the unknown. As Steve Jobs says, “You’re already naked, so there is no reason why you don’t follow your heart”.

The only way to beat the fear of the unknown is to take the first step. If you’re afraid of getting in trouble, remember that you’re already in a bigger trouble by not following your heart. If you listen to the voice of your fears, you’ll live an empty life. But, if you listen to the voice of your heart, you’ll live a remarkable life.

Take the first step and beat your fears. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Carl Nielson is a professional career coach, creator of Career Coaching for Students™ and managing principal of The Nielson Group, a management consulting firm specializing in hiring and selection, team effectiveness and executive coaching.

Career Exploration Requires Developing a Personal Idea Network


TED logoSteven Johnson has a great presentation on where ideas come from that has been made available on TED. Taking his message and applying it to career exploration for high school or college students seemed like a fun exercise.

At the end of his presentation, Johnson states “chance favors the connected mind”.  Now shift your thought to people who are successful and happy in their careers. How did these people find their career? Did it come to them in a dream when they were very young? Perhaps it came to them through a high school class. Or from a discussion with one of their friends. Johnson’s research suggests eureka or light bulb moments, a single event, isn’t how people “found” their career match.

The key to success is in the connected mindInstead, Johnson makes a case for the development of an idea network in the brain that leads to “favor”. So if you can make the assumption that the hypothesis “chance favors the connected mind”  is true, you might find that most people that are in highly successful and enjoyable careers didn’t have a eureka moment. Instead, they experienced a process or journey that promoted exploration of career choices in a networked environment.

The idea of a “connected mind” for career exploration suggests the combination of self-awareness about what in the world motivates you, how you like to do things, people that can offer expanded perspective about careers and information resources such as Student Resource Central on the Career Coaching for Students website and a students’ extended social media network.

A Common Misstep
Exploring potential careers of interest comes before researching educational options including choosing a college. Many students choose a college, university or trade school based on many invalid considerations such as football team success, where friends are choosing to go or the beauty of the campus (I could go on).  Why do they do that? I see two primary reasons:

  1. No access to credible career exploration tools and strategies
  2. Effective career exploration requires work
  3. Without “credible” career exploration tools and strategies, blind faith about what that work will produce is required

What if there were personality and interests assessments that were so valid and reliable for increasing self-awareness and identifying potential career choices they eliminated the need for “blind faith”? What if that led to motivation to do the work to investigate high-potential career interests?

So you’re ready to research educational options and choose a college
One exercise that high school students can do to expand their connected mind for choosing a college is use their Facebook extended network to find students attending a particular college of interest. With Facebook for finding those students and Skype for connecting easily for a chat, it is easy to learn about a particular college or university from the inside. Even better, ask those students attending your school of interest to help you connect with students in the specific major that you are targeting.

Remember, “chance favors the connected mind”. What are the chances you are choosing a career direction and education strategy that will favor you ten years from now?

Carl Nielson is the developer of Career Coaching for Students™, the premier career exploration program for high school and college students. Nielson is the founder of Success Discoveries (www.successdiscoveries.com) and The Nielson Group (www.nielsongroup.com), a global organizational management consulting firm. Prior to consulting, he served over 20 years in corporate human resources management. He holds a degree in organizational psychology from Texas A&M University. Find Carl on LinkedIn.

If you are looking for true career coaching for students, look at http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net. We offer a high school program and college program. Are you past the college years? Check out free resources at Success Discoveries. Professional career coaching services offered.

Copyright © 2011 Success Discoveries, LLC
Career Coaching for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
Life Skills for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC

My Graduation Speech…for incoming High School Students


Your personal white board is clean. Write on it wisely.

I posted this as part of another post last June 2010. I’ve updated it and gave it is own post. Incoming high school freshman have a clean white board and an exciting opportunity. As a Dad of a college junior and a high school junior, it is so clear how choices made as an incoming Freshman high school student (not to minimize a foundation for self management and personal accountability that was established years ago) play a significant part in how the student graduates. This isn’t based on just my two kids, it is based on observing them and all of their friends and classmates. So based on my observations, along with my experience in the work world, I offer the following graduation speech for those moving from junior high to senior high school.

As you aim for high school, you have an incredible opportunity before you. Think of this time as a clean white board. I don’t mean to suggest your past doesn’t matter. Your past is a part of your future . If you perceive your past as positive, you can choose to carry those thoughts forward. If you consider your past to be less than you desire for the future, you can make choices about that too. You see, you have choices you are making right now.

But let’s test your perception of your past. Close your eyes. think about your first kiss (if that has happened already). Your favorite book you’ve ever read? Your favorite TV show… and movie? How do you see your parents? Your teachers? Your coaches? Your grades? Your study habits? Your desire to be involved?

All of this is going to impact your future. If you see your past positively, it will serve you well as a foundation for the future. If your past was personally less than ideal, it can serve you well as a motivator for creating that better future for yourself. Either way, the future is totally in your control – others do not have control of your future – only you do.

Even though you’ve taken several history classes already, you relate most easily to events that have occurred in your own past – your own past is like a drop of water in all the oceans of our great world. What that means is, don’t let your personal experiences limit you. Don’t let your current self perception dictate what you do tomorrow. The majority of teenagers feel inadequate and insecure. Some show their insecurity through shyness. Others through egotistical behaviors. This insecurity comes partially from being intelligent and partially from giving too much power to the concern for others’ perceptions. The intelligent part refers to the fact that you recognize your current ignorance about yourself and the world around you – that’s smart.

Giving too much power to others comes from a lack of sense of self. A lack of self understanding is easily changed. The more you do…that is, the more activities you engage in – especially outside your comfort zone, and the more you do for others, will give you a better sense of self. If you choose to disengage or to follow others rather than lead yourself, you’ll still get a sense of self but it won’t be accurate. Also, personal development experiences will come along slower and they will probably not be as beneficial.

Give yourself permission to study and enjoy learning world history. To give you an idea of how important history is, place yourself into the future, let’s say about 30 years. Today becomes the past. Your entire high school experience has already happened. Now let’s say you are extremely successful 30 years into the future. How did that happen? How did you become extremely successful? Was what you did in high school a part of why you are so successful 30 years out? Did any world events during your school years frame your thinking and shape your motivators? Now that you are successful, how do you define success?

As you emerge into adulthood, life experiences will be overwhelming at times. For some of you, that time has already happened. If your life has been hard already, I salute you and send you a big hug. I promise you will be rewarded. For all of you, you will experience tough times and overwhelming events through your entire life. It isn’t a matter of “if” you have a hard life. You will have a hard life. Let me say that again. “You will have a hard life.” The real question is “how will you lead your life?”. Will you see your life with happiness and gratitude? To answer the question for myself, my life has been a journey. Not an easy journey. I’ve come to realize that hard work isn’t good or bad. I’ve chosen my view of acceptance of life’s hard work. I’ve also developed a great appreciation for what I do and for so many people that have been in my life.

So, what’s your opinion?

Does money create happiness? Click on the link to answer the survey question.
Answer with either yes or no or I don’t know.

I think my happiness increased the most when I stopped judging and started learning. Do you judge your classmates? Or do you learn from your classmates? Do you judge your teachers or learn from them? Do you judge your parents or learn from them?

There was a time I thought I wasn’t very intelligent. It was during my elementary and junior high school days. I learned many years later that I had many intelligences and in fact some were much higher than average. Instead of being egotistical about my abilities, I am humbled by my abilities. I also see everyone else with the same colored glasses…each of you are extremely talented and above average.

How do I know that? You see, I’ve been running a quasi-experiment for 30 years without really knowing it. In my work as a consultant to corporations, I help CEOs and managers select the best person for a particular job or position in those companies. In all of my work, I never measure IQ or “intelligence” to  predict how well a particular candidate or employee will perform. What I measure has more to do with something you already have right now. Your personal talent.

Your talents are already established. All you need to do is add a little ingredient called passion. Of course you need Life Skills and knowledge and use your moral compass. But with passion, your talent, knowledge and a solid foundation in specific life skills guided by a moral compass will take you to a successful future – I guarantee it! Without passion, the other stuff won’t matter much. Don’t let anyone convince you that you aren’t smart enough. You are smart enough – regardless of your grades today. What will count most is that you find what excites you and that you always act with integrity. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive. For success to find you requires you finding what excites you. There are many paths. You will take several of them to find your success in life. You can do it by chance or you can take control. Either way you’ll get there. For example, you’ll probably have the opportunity to do some career exploration in your Freshman year. You can blow it off or see it as an opportunity. One choice is a slower path than the other path. But in the end it is your choice – to take control of your life or not.

In closing, remember the words stated by many including Quarterback Drew Brees at the Loyola University New Orleans, 2010 Commencement: “Love what you do. You will know it when you find it. Enjoy the journey.”

Now is the time to invest in quality research about you – who you are, what you want to do. You are at the beginning of your journey. The white board is clean. Create the journey that fits you.”

Link to Drew Brees’ speech: http://www.loyno.edu/news/story/2010/5/3/2115

I hope you found this entire article helpful including the links to the full commencement speeches. More 2010 commencement speeches are available at http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/03/commencement-graduation-speakers-2010-leadership-speech.html. Also, if you are in search of an effective student career exploration program, please visit http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net.

Carl Nielson is the developer of Career Coaching for Students™, the premier career exploration program for high school and college students. Nielson is the founder of Success Discoveries (www.successdiscoveries.com) and The Nielson Group (www.nielsongroup.com), a global organizational management consulting firm. Prior to consulting, he served over 20 years in corporate human resources management. He holds a degree in organizational psychology from Texas A&M University. Find Carl on LinkedIn.

If you are looking for true career coaching for students, look at http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net. We offer a high school program and college program. Are you past the college years? Check out free resources at Success Discoveries. Professional career coaching services offered. See what a real career coach looks like.

Copyright © 2010 Success Discoveries, LLC
Career Coaching for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
Life Skills for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC

Student Resource Central is Fast Becoming THE Career and College Research Go-To Site


Student Resource Central™, the secure-access part of the Career Coaching for Students™ website is fast becoming THE Career and College Research Go-To Site for students: Incredibly rich with high-quality, high-value and validated content that saves incredible amounts of time for students (and parents).

The Career Coaching for Students™ program is the pride and joy for Success Discoveries (other programs will be coming in time). Because of the depth and quality of the program, the Home Study Personal Edition is $349 (current price) and workshops being offered in various areas of the U.S. range from $500 to $850 per student. While it is worth the price of admission, many families won’t be signing up. Yet, we have an incredibly rich amount of web content for students to use for career exploration exercises, search for colleges that match their educational goals, learn about financial aid, budgeting for college and scholarships and much more. Until now, you had to sign up for the one-on-one coaching or one of the workshop programs to have access to the Student Resource Central site.

We are now offering a $19.95 family license to access Student Resource Central™, the premier career and college exploration resource site. This one-time fee provides access with no expiration. Have more than one child approaching high school? Your username and password will still work next year and the year after. And we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back.

We wish every student could take advantage of the full Career Coaching for Students™ program. For those that can’t, access to Student Resource Central™ can be the next best thing.

For-Profit Colleges Mislead Students


SPECIAL OFFER AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE
On May 4, 2010, we posted an article on this blog and at the home page of Career Coaching for Students™ entitled PBS Frontline Exposes Fraud at For-Profit Schools. Obviously we have to give PBS credit for the story. Now it seems the General Accounting Office (GAO, United States Agency) has published their findings which are both confirming the PBS story and very damning for the “For-Profit Educational Industry”. These “for profits” offer “extensive career planning and placement programs” which has been the enabler for the “for-profit college industry” to secure significant market share in the higher education industry.

According to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), nearly two million students attend for-profit colleges, pursuing bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in disciplines that range from cosmetology to nursing and engineering. In 2009, for-profit colleges received more than $20 billion in federal loans and grants. These are powerful institutions that students, the government, and employers have trusted with a significant part of our society’s future. Knowing this information, you can imagine the outrage and shock that accompanied today’s GAO report that implicated 15 for-profit colleges in deceptive recruiting & career planning practices.

Of the 15 colleges tested, four institutions were guilty of fraud in their aggressive and misleading marketing techniques. As part of the GAO’s undercover investigation, four agents posed as prospective students and met with admissions staff for financial aid, tuition, and career planning information. The test revealed the following questionable marketing practices:

  • One for-profit college encouraged an applicant to hide $250,000 worth of assets on a federal financial aid application
  • According to The New York Times, another college encouraged a student to lie about dependents on a financial aid application 
  • Admissions representatives misrepresented tuition costs, quoting the price of classes for nine months instead of one full year
  • Students were provided with false career planning advice. For example, one program mentioned that barbers could earn up to $250,000 annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 90 percent of barbers earn $43,000 per year.
  • One admissions representative undermined the financial burden of student loans, implying that defaulters cannot be held accountable for missed payments
  • Admissions representatives engaged in aggressive marketing strategies, pressuring the undercover agents to sign contracts even if they weren’t ready to make a decision.

Although the names of the 15 for-profit colleges remain confidential, the surveyed programs were in a number of disciplines, offering both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in subjects ranging from business to cosmetology. This information coincides with an education record.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of high school graduates from the class of 2009 were enrolled in a two-year or four-year program when surveyed in October ’09 — the highest number in United States history. While this is a figure worth celebrating, it is also indicative of a growing issue – proper career exploration and planning.

How many of these students are making informed career decisions when choosing a program to attend? How many of these students will position themselves to guarantee a return on investment, and how many will drown in debt upon graduation, falling victim to aggressive marketing practices, false career planning advice, and unrealistic expectations about career prospects? Whether or not students have fair access to objective information, they are still responsible for the costs and consequences of their education and career planning strategy.

Of all the concerning questions, how many students, by taking the bait at these fraudulent institutions, are missing out on a career that would have been much more fulfilling and resulted in greater success?

Students have to make adult decisions with real consequences at a very young age. The issue isn’t whether students are mature enough to choose and plan their careers. The issue is around access to solid, credible career coaching for students. As a society, as parents, as teachers, and as students, it is more important than ever that career coaching be provided to all students.

If you’re not investing a substantial sum of money, you are investing a substantial amount of time, so be an educated consumer when shopping for a college. Just as you would compare the economic implications of buying a car, you should compare the economic implications of your degree, college, and program relative to career interests. In addition to looking at rankings, prestige, and marketing materials — regardless of whether you are looking at a nonprofit or for-profit college — weigh the economic and educational return on investment. Our students are our future’s most valuable asset, so let’s position them to be successful.

A GREAT OFFER TO READERS OF THIS BLOG – UNLIMITED ACCESS TO STUDENT RESOURCE CENTRAL™ FOR ONLY $19.95: The Career Coaching for Students™ website has an extensive private area for career and educational research that is normally reserved for our individual and workshop clients. Each resource has been evaluated for its quality, value and ethical representation of information. We call it Student Resources Central™. Due to the new, alarming information about corrupt “for-profit” institutional practices, we are offering the full Student Resources Central site to parents** and students for $19.95 per access license. This is a unique offer and the access has no expiration. If you are a high school administrator or teacher and would like to gain access to the site for all of your students we offer the same price to you also. This one-time purchase provides access with no expiration. To buy an access license go here. Aren’t sure it is worth it? We guarantee your satisfaction* or we’ll give you a full refund and we’ll eat the credit card fees.

*Guarantee will be honored for 30 days. After 30 days we figure you found the site helpful.
**This offer is not available to professionals or organizations that offer career guidance services, tools or products. For more information on becoming a Career Coaching for Students™ Licensed Facilitator which includes full rights to use Student Resource Central  with all of your customers contact Carl Nielson at 972.346.2892 or visit our Coach Facilitator information page on the website.

Insights for Parents: The Pressure of Choosing a Career


As a parent of a college student and a teenager in high school, one of my biggest questions in my mind is “Am I helping my children with the right information and career guidance?”  Am I helping them understand their unique talents, skills, behaviors and motivators and translate these into identifying a career path that is motivating and fulfilling for them?  

I’ve worked with many teenagers, high school and college students for several years and have gained a few insights. As a full time management consultant, executive coach and executive & student career coach and as a parent, I’m sharing “insights” that I hope are useful to parents. The focus of these insights is specific to parents of teenagers (or college students) who are struggling with helping their son or daughter with career guidance.  So instead of this being advice, please consider these, at best, my insights. 

Here are a few points to consider to reduce the pressure of Career Guidance: 

  1. Be a good listener. Listening with open ears and an open mind is one of the most powerful ways you can help your son or daughter. Listening means “not talking, telling or judging”. Listening means asking open ended questions to learn what is in the mind of your son or daughter?
  2. Observe and create an awareness of their talents and skills. Become very observant of your teenagers skills and talents in their day to day activities at home, schools and in social gatherings. Open ended discussion around these observations creates a heightened awareness among the teenager. This new awareness also motivates them to explore and learn more about these talents and skills on their own.
  3. Be understanding. Choosing a career is a process of exploration and takes time and effort. When helping your son or daughter explore their own talents and the potential careers that will be a good fit, don’t push for an immediate decision, it has to evolve over time in the mind of your child. Choosing a career is not a healthy objective in the short term. A better “parental objective” is to support your son or daughter in exploring their interests, attitudes, motivators (self awareness) and the careers, industries, companies and people that might help them “find” their place in the world. Developing a strategy that ensures they are positioned to pursue the best career for them is an admiral goal and a less frustrating proposition for you and your child.
  4. Approach career exploration as a fun journey. The journey is as certain as life itself. To make career exploration fun means eliminating all of the things that makes it not fun. We parents are very good at telling. Please don’t tell when it comes to career exploration. Parents are very good at sharing their opinions. Please avoid sharing your opinion until your teenager asks for it. Offer support in whatever way your son or daughter wants that support. Remind yourself often how intimidating an exercise this is for son or daughter. Remind them that you were totally blind about careers, that you had no idea how to go about exploring and choosing a career when you were their age and that you were intimidated by the thought of “choosing a career”. Help them create an environment that puts them in control. Within that general guideline, do not allow your son or daughter to put it off (a natural occurrence when we feel intimidation, fear, and incompetent). With little effort, they can learn a lot during the high school years that will put them way ahead of most college students.

You’ll end up turning your frustration into fun and excitement when you watch your son or daughter talk, act and succeed with passion because they own their career choices. This way they not only find their career choices, but are very excited about it and motivated to go the extra mile to succeed. 


Carl Nielson is the developer of Career Coaching for Students™, the premier career exploration program for high school and college students. Nielson is the founder of Success Discoveries (www.successdiscoveries.com) and The Nielson Group (www.nielsongroup.com), an international corporate organizational management consulting firm. Prior to consulting, he served over 20 years in corporate human resources management. He holds a degree in organizational psychology from Texas A&M University. Find Carl on LinkedIn.   Carl speaks to groups on request and offers parent webinars and seminars for communities. 

If you are looking for true career guidance for a student, check out http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net. Are you past the high school and college years? Check out resources and services at Success Discoveries. Professional career coaching services offered.    

Copyright © 2010 Success Discoveries, LLC
Career Coaching for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
Life Skills for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC

Is it time to revamp career guidance in schools?


As a corporate management and organizational development consultant with over 25 years of hiring, firing, training, coaching and development, I find a mixed population when it comes to people with clear, passionate career direction and those without that clarity and passion. My observations and various academic, corporate and government surveys suggest more people fall into the latter category. Yet those in positions of authority within the secondary and higher education career guidance field seem satisfied with the status quo.Is it time to revamp career guidance in schools?

What has changed over the past 30+ years in career counseling in most schools can be summed up in three letters: WWW. Schools are now offering students an online portal to career information. Most of these programs offer personality assessments that point the student to Holland codes.  So if that is an appropriate assessment for students, how many employers use Holland code type assessments to match people to jobs? My informal scan came up with zero. 

Why revamp career guidance in schools?
I’ve listed some reasons (goals and rewards) that support an effort to revamp career guidance in schools.

  • Higher student self-esteem
  • Higher academic achievement across all student populations
  • Better choices for higher education
  • Shorter time in higher-ed (a change in majors delays a student by at least one semester)
  • Lower student loan debt
  • Higher quality workforce
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Improved society
  • Higher personal income
  • Higher quality of life
  • and greater employability in a passionate career

Career Guidance redefined.

Career guidance starts with bringing self-awareness to the student. This is minimized by schools, or, if attempted, counselors use personality assessments with relatively low validity and reliability. The typical public school administrator thinks they do not have the budget to consider highly reliable, valid assessments and properly conduct counseling or coaching with each student. As one administrator explained, “we need to leave something for the parents to do”. Colleges and universities are found to have very few resources as well. Many continue to use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator as the tool of choice for expanding students’ self-awareness.   

With solid self-awareness, a valid connection needs to be made to career possibilities. Most students get off the train at this point. They didn’t find the “personality assessments” valid (face validity is critical) and found the career suggestions from the assessment report made no sense. The reality is that making the talent-to-career connection requires the help of a professional career coach or a well-developed career coaching program that guides the student through the process.

From initial investigative research to in-depth career analysis, the ability to research careers has been improved drastically thanks to the Internet. However, left on their own, students find the Internet is a rather large, disorganized information bank that has the potential to get the researcher distracted or totally lost and confused. Students don’t need a Google list of Internet resources or school marketing website disguised as a career guidance site. Internet resources need to be found, evaluated, vetted and categorized in a way that allows the student to stay focused with their research and avoid chasing links to questionable or low-value content.

Career research can’t be defined by Internet resources. At some point, the student must meet people in careers of interest, interview these people, go on job shadowing ventures and get internships working for companies that employ people in his career of interest.  There are several other strategies students can take to learn and identify career choices. Most students don’t complete any of these steps. A very few might do some of this.

Researching ideal careers is half the battle. Today’s students lack skills such as decision-making. Life skills that are learned early support students as they go to college or enter the work world. Life skills are just that, skills learned by experiencing life. However, our culture has changed significantly in the past 30 years. Students do not live in an environment that enables them to develop these life skills the way kids did 50 or 100 years ago. Yet school administrators and parents seem unaware of programs they can use to introduce students to key skills required for success. What are the key skills found in highly successful people? Here is a short list of 18 skills. Which of these aren’t needed to be highly successful? 

  1. Continuous Learning (try this one!)
  2. Personal Accountability
  3. Self Management
  4. Decision Making (Conceptual Thinking, Theoretical Problem Solving, Role Confidence, Balanced Decision Making)
  5. Goal Orientation
  6. Proactive Thinking
  7. Initiative
  8. Project and Goal Focus
  9. Planning and Organizing
  10. Flexibility
  11. Problem Solving
  12. Persistence 
  13. Creativity Innovation
  14. Futuristic Thinking
  15. Influencing Others (Conveying Role Value, Gaining Commitment, Understanding Motivational Needs)
  16. Interpersonal Skills (Evaluating Others, Personal Relationships, Persuading Others)
  17. Written Communication
  18. Personal Drive

What are the chances the typical high school student is being developed in these skill areas? I think it is time to revamp career guidance in schools? Please leave your thoughts in the comment box.

Carl Nielson is the developer of Career Coaching for Students™, the premier career exploration program for high school and college students. Nielson is the founder of Success Discoveries (www.successdiscoveries.com) and The Nielson Group (www.nielsongroup.com), an international corporate organizational management consulting firm. Prior to consulting, he served over 20 years in corporate human resources management. He holds a degree in organizational psychology from Texas A&M University. Find Carl on LinkedIn.   Carl speaks to groups on request and offers parent webinars and seminars for communities.

If you are looking for true career guidance for a student, check out http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net. Are you past the high school and college years? Check out resources and services at Success Discoveries. Professional career coaching services offered.   

Copyright © 2010 Success Discoveries, LLC
Career Coaching for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
Life Skills for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC

Career Talk for Students with Dr. Bruce McLaughlin webinar series starts July 7, 2010: New, Emerging and High Demand Jobs for Students


I am very honored to be Bruce’s first “guest” for Career Talk, a free program for students and parents available by registering at http://tinyurl.com/yk7nfw9.

My topic is New and Emerging Careers for Students. Please forward the info to any parent or student interested in the future (that should cover just about everyone).

Career Talk is a series of free conference calls hosted by Dr. Bruce McLaughlin. Topics cover a wide range of issues important to students and parents of students in high school and college.

Career Talk Series One (July through September 2010)

Format: Interactive conference call (phone) with online screen sharing.
Call in instructions:
1. Call the conference line (one-time register at http://tinyurl.com/yk7nfw9) to connect to the call using your unique PIN
2. At beginning of call go to http;//www.successdiscoveries.glance.net. A session key will be provided at the beginning of the call. Follow the online instructions to connect to the presentation screen.

Interactive Q and A with guest experts will be included on each call.

Wednesday 7/7/10 (7:00 P.M. central) – New and Emerging Careers with Carl Nielson
What careers are going to be in demand in the future? How can you prepare yourself to move into the new job market? This session will address careers and their requirements that are relatively new (non-traditional) or anticipated to be developing over the next ten years. We will discuss the differences between ‘New Occupations’, ‘Emerging Occupations’, and ‘Evolving Occupations’. Carl Nielson is founder of Success Discoveries and the Developer of the Career Coaching for Students program.

Wednesday 7/29/10 (7:00 P.M. central) – College Costs & Funding Strategies Part One
Your family’s security depends upon careful planning for college expenses. A typical education can cost over $100,000 and leave the young student in debt for years. Prepare in advance for one of the most important events of your life. Dr. McLaughlin will be joined by Susan Young, CPA to cover this important topic.

Monday 8/30/10 (6:00 P.M. central) – Know the Score on Standardized Testing
Learn about the role standardized testing plays in the college process and gain simple tips to assist you in preparing for the SAT/ACT.

Monday 9/27/10 (8:00 P.M. central) – College Costs & Funding Strategies Part Two
Your family’s security depends upon careful planning for college expenses. A typical education can cost over $100,000 and leave the young student in debt for years. Prepare in advance for one of the most important events of your life. Dr. McLaughlin will be joined by Susan Young, CPA to discuss and share valuable information.

At the end of each call, Bruce will answer questions and explain some of the specifics about the upcoming St. Louis-area career workshops specifically tailored for students in high school or college.

Bonus: As a Registered Call Participant, we’re providing you access to the Life Skills for Students Continuous Learning module (one of the 16 Life Skills for Students modules included in the workshop).

Bonus #2 for Students: Complimentary “Parent User Manual” assessment. Students are being “assessed” and “tested” constantly. Let’s turn the tables and have the parent take an assessment. Participating parents on the call will be invited to take a complimentary behavioral style assessment. The report will be enlightening for the parent and the entire family. Instructions will be e-mailed after the call.

To learn more about upcoming workshops http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net/career-coaching-for-students-events/30-st-louis-student-career-workshop.html

Career Coaching for Students workshop is highly recommended for high school students:

Incoming Freshmen
Sophomores
Juniors*
Seniors*

*This workshop is critical for Juniors and Seniors if they are making college and major choices without a clear career plan., Talent Development: Hire,Train & Retain the Best. Executive Coaching, Team Development, Student Career CoachingTriMetrix, CPVA, CPBABy Carl Nielson,

Free Career Counseling is the Most Expensive Option


Yes, we’ve all had that experience where “free” turned out to be the most expensive option. When the risk is low, it is a great first strategy. When the stakes are really high, taking the free approach may not be the best way to go. When it comes to student career exploration, that free career counseling received in high school and college has generated some interesting statistics for those adults now trying to reap the benefits of that career counseling. To be certain, while these offerings may be free to the student and parents, there is a cost for the time and resources assigned. In addition, student feedback and national data suggest traditional career counseling strategies used by most high schools and colleges are not effective.     

US Job Satisfaction Trend

US Job Satisfaction Trend

 

According to The Conference Board, as reported January 5, 2010, of 5,000 households, finds only 45 percent of those surveyed say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61.1 percent in 1987, the first year in which the survey was conducted. “While one in 10 Americans is now unemployed, their working compatriots of all ages and incomes continue to grow increasingly unhappy,” says Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center of The Conference Board. “Through both economic boom and bust during the past two decades, our job satisfaction numbers have shown a consistent downward trend.”     

The drop in job satisfaction between 1987 and 2009 covers all categories in the survey, from interest in work (down 18.9 percentage points) to job security (down 17.5 percentage points) and crosses all four of the key drivers of employee engagement: job design, organizational health, managerial quality, and extrinsic rewards. 
Trend Percent by AGE of US Satisfied in Job

Satisfaction Trend by Age

 

“Challenging and meaningful work is vitally important to engaging American workers,” adds John Gibbons, program director of employee engagement research and services at The Conference Board. “Widespread job dissatisfaction negatively affects employee behavior and retention, which can impact enterprise-level success.” In fact, 22 percent of respondents said they don’t expect to be in their current job in a year. “This data throws up a big, red flag because the increasing dissatisfaction is not just a ‘survivor syndrome’ artifact of having co-workers and neighbors laid off in the recession,” says Gibbons.     

Chart 4 on the left makes a strong statement. Those in the workforce under age 25 (group most recently having received career counseling as a student) are the most dissatisfied with their job. That was the case in 1987 as well but the amount of dissatisfaction has changed dramatically. Is there a correlation between job dissatisfaction of the younger adults and career counseling strategies being used by high schools and colleges? All age categories show drastic shifts downward in job satisfaction. Yet, we can assume that within all age groups it is likely there are people that are experiencing very high job satisfaction. Is there a common denominator for those that are experiencing high job satisfaction? The short answer is “YES”. Everyone with high job satisfaction have found the job and career that matches to their passions and talent.     

Is the economy to blame or is the cause more stealth?     

The Stealth Bomber from the movie StealthLooking at the different Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data, earnings were flat for most of 2009. That might explain a dip in job satisfaction in 2009 but not in 1987 – 2008 (Chart 1 above).  A closer look at hourly compensation, manufacturing output and business output do not show a correlation between economic indicators and job satisfaction.     

Real Hourly Comp Business 1987 - 2010 BLS

Real Hourly Comp Business 1987 - 2010 BLS

 

While the 2009 recession could be “predicted” by some of the previous year data, it doesn’t seem to matter what is going on economically. Job satisfaction is dropping. The only data that might give some correlation to the economy is Real Hourly Compensation. From 1987 to 1998 there were wide swings both up and down. Those wide swings could explain a level of job dissatisfaction. From 1998 to 2009 the Real Hourly Compensation shows a steady drop.    

We could easily make a correlation between dropping compensation and job satisfaction. In 2005, we see a high point    

Output per Hour Mfg 1988 - 2010 BLS

Output per Hour Mfg 1988 - 2010 BLS

 

for job satisfaction in the first decade of the 21st century that contradicts the correlation between compensation and job satisfaction. We also see a spike in manufacturing output in 2005 that might suggest that is “the” driver of job satisfaction.    

So with contradictions in the data, we are left searching for better explanations. Those of us working in the organizational development and human capital management field like to point to the intangibles of work. Within that realm, there is a body of knowledge and hard data that suggests “job fit” is the real “controlling factor” for job satisfaction. This implicates high school and college career counseling programs as not only being ineffective but perhaps detrimental to future job satisfaction.    

Output per Hour Business 1987 - 2010 BLS
Output per Hour Business 1987 – 2010 BLS

So back to the point about “free is the most expensive option”.  When  it comes to career exploration, there are three possible ways to receive free career coaching as a student:    

  • in high school
  • through the government’s military recruitment program
  • at college/post secondary school 

The first  free opportunity comes in high school.
High Schools are signing “career Internet portal site licenses” with companies like Kuder, Bridges by XAP or Naviance to meet state graduation requirements related to career exploration and career planning. Teachers or counselors are providing guidance to the students that ranges from a PowerPoint presentation on how to use the career portal to one-on-one meetings to “guide” the student in choosing AP classes and taking the SAT or ACT exams. English teachers may assign a writing assignment to focus on career exploration. Some high schools like Eugene Oregon’s school district have a comprehensive suite of tangible offerings and a career coordinator to coordinate the offerings. For most high schools, the counselors will say the last thing they have time for is to provide quality individualized (or even group) career coaching. Carol Christen, coauthor of What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens: Discovering Yourself, Defining Your Future states, “Academia seems to be stuck in the 19th century. They have polarized the discussion into parts that are nearly irrelevant. Research shows that all students do better when they have a plan. A detailed and well vetted plan is as necessary as good grades for success, and that students with a plan go on to and graduate from higher education in greater numbers.”    

ASVAB Wants YOU

ASVAB is the Dept of Defense's Military Entrance Exam

 

The second free opportunity is the Department of Defense ASVAB Career Exploration program.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a timed multi-aptitude test, which is given at over 14,000 schools and Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) nationwide and is developed and maintained by the Department of Defense. The military is offering free career exploration that includes the ASVAB assessment and a full personal debriefing of the ASVAB assessment results. The people providing the assessment debriefing are not career coaches. They are Recruiters working for the military. If you are already considering or want to look at careers in the military, take advantage of this free offer. To access a wider student population (top students), the military has dressed this program up as a “taxpayer benefit that everyone should use”.    

 The third free opportunity is the college career placement and counseling office.
College Placement and Counseling OfficeEvery college or university has an office of Career Placement and Counseling. Trade schools and “for profit” institutions also have a similar office. The “for profit” organizations use the name to cover their true purpose to use the “career counseling” for recruiting new students.    

Like high school, universities and colleges have more of an advisory system in place that is offered to students. Unfortunately, most of these institutions use similar assessments used by high schools – not the kind of assessments used by companies to match people to jobs. Advisors in colleges and universities rely on the student to come to them. Based on college staffing of career advisors, less than 5% of the student population actually utilize the services. The services utilized look much more like a high school offering than actual career coaching. But lately, colleges are introducing classes like those listed at Cleveland State University. An example of a Law School career counseling services video go here. Watch the Career and Job Fair video to see the typical college student admit they did no career planning before choosing a college  major or delayed thinking about career and jobs until their graduation year.    

The best advice I can offer to teens or parents is “find and enroll in a credible career exploration program that takes a career coaching approach”. Do this before you leave high school. Do this before you choose a college. Do this before you choose a college major. Pay for it unless you know someone that will provide it to you for free. If you can’t find a local program, consider Career Coaching for Students™ Home Study Personal Edition. With parent assistance, students who seriously pursue career planning using credible methods can gain an advantage that impacts academics now and avoids missteps down the road.    

The second piece of advice is for students. Take your high school “career” writing assignments seriously. Take full advantage of any career counseling that is offered if you feel it is credible and helpful.  

Carl Nielson is the developer of Career Coaching for Students™, the premier career exploration program for high school and college students. Nielson is the founder of Success Discoveries (www.successdiscoveries.com) and The Nielson Group (www.nielsongroup.com), an international corporate organizational management consulting firm. Prior to consulting, he served over 20 years in corporate human resources management. He holds a degree in organizational psychology from Texas A&M University. Find Carl on LinkedIn.    

If you are looking for true career coaching for students, look at http://www.careercoachingforstudents.net. Are you past the high school and college years? Check out free resources at Success Discoveries. Professional career coaching services offered. See what a real career coach looks like.    

Copyright © 2010 Success Discoveries, LLC
Career Coaching for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC
Life Skills for Students™ is a trademark of Success Discoveries, LLC