Tag Archives: student loans

What it Takes for Students to Become Financially Independent


Best and Worst Undergrad College Degrees by Major - Are we asking the right question?When does a student become financially independent?  This is a question that most students and parents struggle with.

This independence question gains importance as you turn 18 and intensifies as you move to full independence. For college students (those college bound please heed this), the watch-out is to not get on a financial “high” in your sophomore year of college because you saved and were frugal your freshman year. And don’t go into apathy as you see your student loan debt growing in your junior year. For all students regardless of post-secondary direction, the 18 – 21 age range is when you are practicing your independent role. You are now an adult which means you are supposed to be independent. Right? Well, it just isn’t that simple any more.

In the late ’70s, I faced the challenge of putting myself through college without much help. I used government-sponsored grants and low-interest loans sparingly. I worked at least one job during school at all times and summers and spring break and christmas holidays. I came out after four and a half years with a relatively small amount of debt. I remember driving out of my college town for the final time with no cash. My last amount of cash was used to fill the gas tank. I didn’t have a job. I lived with my parents for 3 months after finishing college. The 3 months living at home and looking for my first career job seemed like forever. As it turns out I was lucky it took only 3 months. Once my “professional” paycheck started coming in my financial independence and my self-esteem were no longer an issue.

Today, it is more difficult for students to obtain financial independence quickly. It depends on the situation but here are some of the issues students face:

  • The Need for a High GPA – GPA’s of 3.5 or higher is a must have for many companies so students have to study harder and longer to obtain this. Many schools programs are extremely rigorous and a full-time load is really full-time.  This means less time for working.
  • Helicopter Parents – Parents are making many decisions for children way past the age of 18. Instead of helping them work towards independence, they are making decisions perhaps the student should be making. Many parents tend to pay for most everything for the student without a thought.  This hinders the students ability to grow and learn life lessons.
  • College Involvement – Many students are heavily involved in programs or athletics in school.  It is difficult to work and be committed to studies and a full-time extra-curricular activities.
  • College Costs – College costs have become astronomical. In many cases, it is impossible for a student to be completely financially independent particularly if they are attending an expensive college. Parents are having to assist more today than ever before. One rule, you should never have to pay full sticker price for college regardless of college choice. There seems to be a significant gap between “advertised price” and “actual price”. Actual will be less.

Here are some ideas to help students reach financial independence by the time they graduate or shortly thereafter:

  • Budget – Students should sit down with their parents before they turn 18 and obtain a list of all the expenses the parents pay for.  Both parties should discuss items that the student can begin to start paying for.  Over a period of time, the student should begin to take on more responsibility for expenses. Many times, the parent agrees to pay for things until the student graduates from college. After starting that first job upon graduation, the first pay check is celebrated with a transfer of obligations for those things the parents have been paying (gas card, cell phone and data plan, insurance, etc.).
  • College Costs – Both parents and students should be involved in filling out financial information for FAFSA, deciding on a school, obtaining scholarships, loans, grants,etc…it seems complicated but as you get into it, you’ll find it isn’t too much. It’s just tedious. Don’t let your parents take the lead here. This is an opportunity for students to practice their self-starting, decision-making and personal accountability skills which are critical to becoming independent.
  • Developing Credit – Credit is something that a student needs to start developing. Start with a very low credit limit ($100), charging small items and paying them off the same month. The earlier you are able to establish some credit, the better off you will be.  If your parents are involved in paying for your education, let them know you are doing this but don’t rely on them to bail you out if you get in trouble. I don’t recommend parents co-signing for the credit card or giving the student a credit card.
  • Planning for the Future – Stay aware of the need for some savings for an apartment rental for when you graduate.  The student should look through the local newspaper or search ‘Google apartment expenses’ to get an idea of today’s rent, down payment, utilities, etc…
  • Work with Your Parents and Surprise Them – Both parents and students should work together as a team and discuss how to gain financial independence and set realistic goals.  Demonstrating to your parents that you make good decisions will reap big rewards and help to change the relationship from parent-child to parent-adult. they’ll always be your parents but you are probably ready to change the relationship so here is your chance to break the parent habit in a good way.
  • Do Research – There is plenty of information on finance geared to the college student. Student Resource Central™ has practically everything you need, but if not, there are books that will go deeper. You can find our recommendations on our Amazon e-store.
  • Choosing a college that is best for youTHINK Like an Entrepreneur – Whether you work at the local grocery store, provide babysitting services or start your own lawn care company, always give your best and be disciplined in your approach to work. If you are working for a company (such as the local grocery store or retail store or restaurant) look at yourself from the manager’s eyes. What do they want from you? They want you to be on time, be prepared and be responsive to the needs of customers and to them.
  • There are No Mistakes – Learn from your lessons as difficult as they may be. Everyone was a teenager at one time. Everyone goes through a learning process. Avoid feeling bad about any mistakes you make. Always use mistakes or failures as learning opportunities – keep going. Don’t rely on your parents to bail you out when something doesn’t go the way you planned. Learning life lessons early on in life prepares us to be stronger, more independent adults.

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm that provides executive development coaching, team development and assessments for hiring. As creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl has helped thousands of students find a better way through the career exploration process that works.  Assessment and coaching packages start at $399. Local public workshops, distance-coaching and in-school programs available. Call for more information at 972.346.2892.

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


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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

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

Adora Svitak: What Adults Can Learn from Kids


Adora Svitak is a young teenager (teen, tween?). To watch her give a speech to a TED audience gives any parent a moment of wonderment. In her speech she talks about what kids bring to the world and how adults can learn a few things that, perhaps, we’ve forgotten. It is a great speech, great presentation, very polished. Well done Adora!

Now for the most interesting part. Read the comments that are coming in (watch the video at the link above first, the comments are listed below the video). If you are an adult, teacher or parent, some of the comments are extremely positive, perhaps even helpful toward Adora’s points, others not so much, even making Adora’s points even more valid. For example, Dani wrote “Adora, thank you. I’m an educator and as the school year nears it’s end you have reminded me to trust my students, to allow them to express themselves and to provide them with an environment where they can thrive.”  A very positive statement. Very helpful in reminding us that children are “diamonds in the rough” and that, if given the opportunity, children can be brilliant. Of course the key here is “given the opportunity”.

Most kids do not grow up in a perfect environment (home, school, social). This imperfection in the environment takes its toll on the “self view” of “potential” that each person has as they grow. For most, once the self view is tarnished, motivation decreases. A negative bias on one’s self view does not have to be cause for decreased individual motivation.

Based on data coming from an extremely valid and reliable assessment, a negative bias for self view is found in 85% of the population. It turns out that a negative bias for self view is what gives most of us a “continuous learning” attitude. Otherwise, we become so egotistical in our own abilities that we would be intolerable in relationships (personal, work, etc.). So a negative bias for self view is important to understand and put to use.

Many students develop the negative self bias and fail to see themselves as worthwhile, deserving of a great future and “high potential”. Some teachers, with their own imperfect self, make the situation worse. We see these students in high school acting out in many different ways but they all seem to have one common theme – under achievement academically and a preference to play to an extreme that results in avoidance of intellectual development).  

Now fast-forward to high school. I recall having “moments” of brilliance but not getting much recognition. Those moments of brilliance were camouflaged with an abundance of mediocrity. Knowing what I now know, mediocrity is the air that everyone breaths. There are two components or “ingredients” that, when added to our air, change things dramatically. The first is something called life skills. The second is career exploration.

These two components, specific life skills and clear career match to talents, were consistently found in highly successful people. To see what life skills were identified in highly successful people go here. To see what a real student career coaching program looks like go here.

So, based on the 12 key life skills identified in highly successful people, which of those does Adora display as she takes her audience on the journey to “learn from kids”?

Preliminary Study Shows Critical Skill Missing in College Freshman


One of the most valuable relationships I have is being part of a professional family called TTI Performance Systems Ltd (TTI). TTI is the worldwide leader in personal and professional assessment tools. With years of research and validation, TTI assessments are time-tested and proven to provide timely solutions for today’s personal talent and business challenges. TTI tools are utilized in over 50 countries and 26 languages to help individuals, businesses and organizations. TTI assessments are used in my Career Coaching for Students™ program for high school and college students. I’ve been a member of TTI’s Chairman’s Club for several years now. This has enabled me to learn about different studies and stay in touch with one of the true thought leaders in personal talent measurement,  Bill Bonnstetter.

Bill Bonnstetter, Founder and Chairman, TTI Performance Systems, Ltd.Bill Bonnstetter, Founder and Chairman of TTI keeps his finger on the pulse by doing research. This not only keeps TTI in the leader position but gives me the ability to apply and share critically significant findings.  Bonnstetter recently conducted a preliminary study of incoming Freshman students in college that showed among other things a significant lack of competency in a particular skill – “Decision Making“.

Why is this skill important for students?
One characteristic that “successful people” share is the ability to make sound and timely decisions. The best student decision makers are able to synthesize a variety of factors, such as personal opinion, group needs and professor instructions, and make decisions that at least come close to satisfying the major requirements of all involved parties.

People who are good at Decision Making do not suffer from an imbalance in the amount of focus they place on any one factor. They will most likely make decisions that place equal emphasis on all involved parties or concerns, therefore, making decisions that are more likely to satisfy all needs.

People whose Decision Making skills need work typically don’t place equal importance on all aspects of a situation and don’t utilize proven processes. Instead, they make decisions that satisfy some, but not all, of the factors or people involved.

Let’s say that a college professor has assigned a research paper that is due in two weeks. A student who is a strong decision maker considers the scope of the professor’s assignment, total class work load, other projects, what part-time work schedule is coming up and next weekend’s social events to decide that it is best to start immediately on the paper and to cancel one of their social plans for the upcoming weekend.  A student who is weak in decision-making may ignore the assignment altogether for the first week and then ignore critical elements of the assignment as they write the paper. Which student is likely to get the better grade on their paper, the one with good decision-making skills or the one with weak decision-making skills?

What skills are associated with Decision Making?

Someone who has mastered skills associated with Decision Making:

• Demonstrates an ability to make difficult decisions in a timely manner.

• Gathers relevant input and develops a rationale for making decisions.

• Evaluates the impact or consequences of decisions before making them.

• Acts decisively despite obstacles, resistance or opposition.

• Accepts consequences of decisions.

• Is willing to correct incorrect decisions when necessary.

• Defends rationale for decisions when necessary.

How do students develop their own skills in Decision Making?

• Don’t make hasty decisions unless the situation requires some type of immediate reaction.

• If the situation requires you to make a quick decision, consider implementing a temporary solution and revisit the issue, incorporating all relevant factors and individuals, when the immediate crisis has passed.

• Don’t always get bogged down in details. Force yourself to look at the situation from a big-picture perspective.

• Practice being a good communicator. Share information as often as possible and be open to suggestions, comments and opinions from others.

• Be sure that everyone who will be affected by the decision you are trying to make has an opportunity to state an opinion about it.

• If you determine that a decision should be made with the help of others, create formal opportunities for the decision-making group to discuss and analyze options.

• Brainstorm to create a variety of potential solutions for each problem you face.

• Don’t be afraid to change your decisions if new information clarifies issues or presents new options.

• Look for creative ways to approach the situation by determining how others have handled similar situations in the past.

• Carefully evaluate the options you have identified based on relevant criteria. How well does each option address the issue at hand? What resources does each option require to be successful? Which options can be completed within the relevant time frame? Is each option a realistic, workable solution?

• Be sure to create potential solutions that are easily put into place. The solution or decision should make things easier, not harder!

• Be educated about the consequences of your decisions. Try to determine how each option you have identified affects others, the budget, the goal of the program or company, and even people outside the organization such as clients or suppliers.

• If you don’t feel that you have enough information, determine what is the worst possible thing that could happen if you made a decision right now without getting any new information. This may help you feel better about making a decision, or it may strengthen your resolve to gather more data.

• If a course of action is unclear and you cannot make a truly informed decision, choose what seems to be the best solution and implement it temporarily. The temporary solution may work well, or it may help you determine an alternate course of action.

• If you make an erroneous decision, be willing to improve it or take corrective action to solve the problem in a more effective manner.

• If others are affected by your decision, not only involve them in the planning process, but also keep them informed of your final decision as well as the results of your decision.

• Always behave ethically. Don’t let stress, time pressures or other people convince you to make decisions that don’t fit within your value system.

Decision Making is one of the Life Skills for Students™ e-learning modules, a highly effective self-directed 12-week program that includes 16 critically important skill learning modules. Each module was selected based on studies of highly successful people and includes simple exercises to develop each skill. Life Skills for Students™ is also included in the Career Coaching for Students™ program. Click on this link for more information about Life Skills for Students™.

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

What Will You Be Doing 7 Years From Now?


This is a special article written by Augie Mendoza and re-posted from Bob Proctor’s Insight of the Day. This story connects to graduating high school students of today. As you will read, Augie graduated from high school in 1972. Read the story to get some insight into how career planning was addressed “back in the day”.


by Augie Mendoz,
I graduated from Brazosport High School in Freeport, Texas in May 1972. Not dressed in white (honors), but I graduated.

That summer like the previous summer, I worked as a longshoreman loading corn, flour and corn sacks weighing 50 to 140 lbs. and 900 lbs. caustic soda drums on freight ships bound to other countries at nearby Brazos Harbor and Dow Chemical A2 Dock.

This was one of the better paying jobs in the area. It was grueling, hard, heavy work, but I loved it at the time. My father had been doing this job most of his life since it paid well.

Fall came around and I had already decided that I did not want to make my living as a longshoreman. Work was inconsistent and when it was there it only went to the ones with the most seniority, unless there was too much. There was very little opportunity for a better job when you got older.

I had always heard that a college education would get you a better job and decided to find out. So I went to nearby Brazosport College and set up an appointment with a counselor.

I got to his office at the appointed time and he asked me what work or profession interested me the most. I had taken Auto Mechanics I & II during my junior and senior years in high school and asked him if Brazosport College had an auto mechanics program.

He said “no.” I asked him if they had anything similar to it. He said that the Machine Tools Technology program was very similar and described the program to me.

I was very interested and asked him how long it would take if I went full time. He said “4 years.” I said I couldn’t go full time since I am working (whenever work was available).

I asked how long would it take if I go part time? He said “7 years.” I was shocked. I said, “Man, I’ll be old then, I’ll be 25 years old. I don’t thing so.”

He asked me, “what did you say you did for a living right now?”

I told him again that I worked as a longshoreman throwing bags and manhandling drums. Then he bent over his desk and looked me square in the eye and asked me the most significant words I will never forget in my life:

“IF YOU DON’T TAKE ANY CLASSES. WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING 7 YEARS FROM NOW?”

These words hit me like a ton of bricks! I sheepishly told him that I would be doing the same thing. I signed up for the classes right then and there.

These prophetic words have inspired many of my relatives and friends. The sun will rise and fall 365 days a year. What you choose to do in between will determine many things in your life.

This story alone has inspired relatives and friends to realize an age-old truth: Time will go on regardless and it waits on nobody.

Years later, I told a co-worker this story. He got inspired enough that he went on and got 3 different degrees in computers in less than 7 years! He said afterwards, “7 years ago I would’ve been saying to myself, ‘If only I had the opportunity.'”

TIME WILL PASS REGARDLESS!
Augie Mendoza


My impression is that there are millions of Augies graduating this year – in 2010. Yes, some kind of career planning efforts are going on in high school. Yes, career interest assessments are being offered. Yes, the Internet has opened an entire world of opportunity to all students. Do college admissions counselors care today, yes, very much. Based on job satisfaction surveys, people are very effectively getting college degrees and going into “jobs” but too few are finding their passion. Finding your passion and immersing in that passion is like getting a 50 point boost in your IQ. Are you engaged in your own career planning?

So how is today’s career planning different than it was “back in the day”?
Let’s put it this way. If you are wanting to learn how to cook would you go to your local certified mechanic or would you look for a culinary class. Receiving career counseling from teachers and counselors in high school is certainly a good start. Receiving educational advice from a college placement office is also good to do. But if you want to seriously explore careers and create the plan that positions you for success, wouldn’t it be best to utilize a career coach who has extensive knowledge and experience “outside the academic world”? Career Coaching for Students™ is delivered by professional career coaches that have a passion for helping students and the right expertise to help you to create a strategic career path that leverages your passions. The program’s internet resources save considerable time finding the information that is most useful for you. To see what a career coach looks like, check out the Career Coaching for Students™ Career Coaches Profiles.

What is the Primary Reason Students Don’t Receive Career Coaching?


Getting a college education has been the #1 advice from school counselors and parents. “Go to school, get a good education, and get a good job” has been the advice for many generations. But what does this mean for the high school student?Student Career Coaching? What a Concept!

Career counseling is offered in most high schools today, but actual career coaching (more often referred to as career planning) is virtually nonexistent. Students go to college and obtain degrees only to discover that they have climbed the wrong mountain. After all those years of work, they find that they are either unhappy with their career choice or can´t get a job in the career area they’ve selected. Many graduate from college without really knowing what they want to do with the degree that they have earned.

Unfortunately, many of those students will go on to climb another mountain by getting another degree, only to find that yet again they can´t find a job in their chosen field or they don´t much care for the career options they have selected. Many people have multiple college degrees they have obtained through a trial and error process. Some of these students may be attracted to the learning environment and have chosen to hide out in the academic world until they find the right career. Instead of spending time up front researching and planning, they just begin climbing the mountain and figure they´ll make their plan once they get to the top. But there is nothing there.

Today´s educational planning is akin to building a house without any purpose and design in mind (and obviously without an architectural rendering of the house plans). Sure you can look at magazines and online resources to get some ideas about what the features of the house might be. Can you imagine the look on the delivery guys face when he shows up with a truck load of concrete and asks where to pour it only to be told you’re not sure but maybe pour a little over here, a little over there and some back here? Likewise, many students spend time planning what college they are going to go to, how they are going to pay for it, and even what they are going to study, without actually planning what they will do with the degree once they get it.

As a management consultant specializing in organizational development and hiring, I can say with confidence this is all too common in today´s society. Employers are baffled at the lack of clarity around career direction shown by graduating college students. Having a “I’ll take any job I can get” strategy for job search after college is a strategy but it won’t generate the desired results.

So what is the answer? A more in-depth career coaching class for high school students would be a way to introduce the topic and the importance of making a plan and begin the journey with confidence. Offering career coaching at the college level would allow students to follow through with the actual planning process that was started in high school. Both high schools and colleges have done a good job of presenting an image of providing career coaching. Very few are really doing it.

It is essential that young people learn the value of career coaching and actually plan their careers before deciding on education. And it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a little bit of life skills development that will give the student a leg up when they actually arrive at college or in their first job or summer internship.

Of course, no plan is set in stone and gets implemented as is. This is the main reason so many people don’t spend time planning. But when it comes to career and college, not planning is a very expensive strategy. Any career plans can be modified throughout the journey and should be modified to fit a person’s evolving interests and knowledge (I refer to this as focusing). Introducing career exploration and coaching at the Freshman level in high school has significant potential of impacting the student’s academic performance throughout high school and into college. But most importantly, career coaching reduces the likelihood of students climbing many wrong mountains and significantly increases the likelihood of finding the right path without getting lost in the forest.

There is a perception that true career coaching that results in making great personal choices and following through to see positive results isn’t possible. There used to be a perception that a person’s success couldn’t be predicted. Today, employers are using highly sophisticated yet simple talent assessments to determine “job fit” of applicants. This same science is being used by only one career planning program: Career Coaching for Students™.

To readers: What is the primary reason high school students don’t receive career coaching?