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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

As a child, you probably had any number of answers to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But, as a teenager and a college-bound student, the answer is not always so clear. You may think you have to decide on your major before you even look at colleges. But did you know that according to the National Center for Education, about 80% of college students change their major at least once during their college career? And, “undecided” is one of the most popular majors for incoming college freshmen. In fact, there are jobs and careers that haven’t yet been invented but will be by the time you graduate college. So, the real question is, “What do you need to know before you embark on your post-secondary path?”

The ancient Greek aphorism, “Know Thyself”, holds true for students of all ages considering their future. Research has shown a significant correlation between happiness and success. While not everyone is passionate about something, everyone is unique. The earlier you learn what makes you tick, the earlier you will be able to make informed decisions and plan a clear path to your future.

Enter career assessments and career exploration. Career assessments can measure a person’s personality, abilities, interests, strengths, skills and values. They can be taken at various stages of a person’s life: as a high school or college student or later in life for those seeking a career change. While personalities seldom change, people’s interests, skills and values can develop and change as they grow and have real-life experiences.

As college advisors, we strongly recommend that high school students take a series of career assessments as a sophomore or junior in high school as they are the starting place to begin the college exploration and planning process. Once students learn about the occupations matching their results, they can begin the process of career and college major exploration. Many students discover occupations or college majors they’ve never heard of. Even if a student is certain they want to be an engineer, for example, they may discover that there are other occupations that hold more interest and utilize the same abilities, skills and knowledge that engineers possess. While all paths may lead to Rome, many paths can lead to a student’s first choice career interest.

A high school student’s next step in career exploration is to research their various occupational interests to determine employment prospects, wage and salary outlooks, skills and values necessary to perform these jobs, as well as the education and certifications required for these occupations. When a student has narrowed down the list to their top occupations and corresponding post-secondary paths, they have an academic direction for their the college search.

We believe that using career assessments and exploration to determine your areas of interest rather than to find a particular career or major is key to the college search. Students tend to enjoy this process of self-discovery and are often relieved and less stressed about their college planning. Parents appreciate learning about the opportunities that are available to their children, and we are happy to see our students become one step closer to finding their best “fit” colleges.

If you would like some assistance with your college search process, contact Lynne today for a free consultation.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

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The Value Of Identifying Your VIPS

VIPS“What are you thinking about majoring in and why?”

This is a question I love asking students.  It appears to be a very simple question on the surface, but can get at something much deeper. While some students are very undecided and have no idea what they want to do (which is okay – really, it is), most are able to talk about one or more ideas they have. They want to major in engineering or nursing. They want to be a teacher or go into business. They have a feeling for something but they’re not entirely sure why.

And regardless of whether they have an idea or not, the table has been set to explore what I call their VIPS – Values, Interests, Personality-Style and Skills. These are the attributes students need to explore and understand better in order to have a successful college admission experience. Yet most students lack an awareness of their VIPS. This is never clearer than in conversation with current college freshmen who say, “I’m not happy.” When I start asking questions to get to the root of the matter, the same themes pop up:

They don’t know what really matters to them.

They haven’t thought about how their skills and abilities match with their major.

They don’t understand what careers or skills a particular major will afford them.

At the end of the day, so many students just don’t know what they want out of their lives. And while I don’t believe in the pressure of having to choose a course in life right away, students have to be encouraged to explore their VIPS.  They need to be pushed to reflect on their successes and failures in life, the moments they have enjoyed and the ones they have dreaded. They need to understand what makes them tick so that when it does come time to choose something, that choice is a well-informed one.

Why? Because I’m a firm believer that if you do more of what you love, if you invest your time in the things that matter the most to you, if you delve deep into the subjects you are both interested in and good at, you will find success in life.

High school students need to focus on identifying their VIPS and then use this information to launch their college search. Along the way, they can seek out job shadow opportunities so they can try something on before committing to it. They can identify individuals to interview so they can learn more about a professional field and what it takes to do well at it. And in the long run, they are essentially “branding” themselves by focusing on the things they love to do and creating opportunities to do more of them.

Your college experience should be the first leg on what is a life-long journey of being someone who is really awesome at what you do. Tap into the things you are good at, the things you love to do and the things that are most important to you and that journey will be even better.

If you would like some assistance with your college search, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.


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So You Want To Be A Music Major?

college admissions consultantThis fall, I’m doing something different with my blog to spice it up a bit. I’ve invited several admission counselors from around the country to contribute posts about topics they feel high school students and their families should be paying more attention to as they go through the college search and application process. As much as I like to share tips and advice, why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth? 

Today’s post is the third in this series and it’s by Reuben Councill, Associate Director of Admissions from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania:  

While the college search process is always an involved one, music majors definitely have a few different aspects to consider.  While there are certainly schools where you can major in music without taking an audition for entrance into the degree program, I think the vast majority of potential music majors will choose to attend a program that has an audition requirement.  Proper preparation is key to a successful process and I am happy to give you some points to consider.

First and foremost, you need some professional assistance.  If you are not already doing so, you need to have lessons from a private instructor who is a specialist on your particular instrument or voice type.  This person will be in the best position to help you prepare an audition that will showcase your strengths and allow you to have the best options for acceptance into a variety of schools.  If you need help locating a suitable instructor, good references include your high school band or choir director, professional musicians from a local orchestra or choir, and music professors from any colleges or universities in your area.

Second, you need to decide on a list of potential music programs.  Most students will audition for a variety of schools – some more competitive than others for program acceptance.  As a prospective student, it is important for you to be in contact with each department or school of music for which you plan to audition.  While requirements will be similar, you need to be sure that you are preparing exactly what each program expects to hear from you at the time of audition.

Third, it is important to evaluate the type of degree offered by each institution you are considering.  Without going into too much detail, as a performance major, you can expect to see Bachelor of Music in Music Performance or Bachelor of Arts with a performance emphasis.  A significant difference with a Bachelor of Music degree is that the student will receive a much more in-depth curriculum particularly regarding theory and history requirements within the music major.  However, the Bachelor of Arts can be the perfect degree for someone wishing to complete a dual major with a truly rich musical experience.

Music Education has a wider range of options.  The three programs most widely available are Bachelor of Music in Music Education, Bachelor of Science in Music Education, and Bachelor of Arts with Music Teacher Certification.  While each can be the means to a successful career as a music educator, the three programs go about it in different ways.  In the Bachelor of Music in Music Education, the music department retains the majority of curriculum oversight.  Most of your practical education courses will be taught by music professors with music specific environments and experiences.  The Bachelor of Science in Music Education still provides a core music curriculum, but the majority of education requirements are handled through the education department.  In these circumstances, music teachers are spending a good deal of time with students from other disciplines in a more general methods environment.  The Bachelor of Arts with Music Teacher Certification provides a general music curriculum and then tacks on enough education related coursework to meet the requirements for state teacher licensure.

Hopefully that is not an overwhelming overview!  I am happy to serve as a resource if you have additional questions.  At Susquehanna University we are pleased to offer a very rich musical experience at the undergraduate level.  We offer Bachelor of Music in Music Performance, Music Education, and Bachelor of Arts degrees in a very well-rounded department that includes opportunities for singers and instrumentalists including a full orchestra and opera program.  Being undergraduate only, students will have a wealth of opportunities throughout their four years without having to compete with graduate students for the best ensemble placements.  Please be in touch if you would like more information.

Reuben Councill currently serves as Associate Director of Admissions at Susquehanna University.  Prior engagements have included Executive Director for the Williamsport Symphony and Coordinator of Music Admissions also at Susquehanna.  As a musician, he performs regularly as Principal Flute with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra.

If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free 60-minute consultation. Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

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College Counseling Tip Of The Day – Use job shadows and informational interviews to help identify possible majors

Not sure what to major in? Interview interesting & cool adults you know. Find out what they do & how they do it and then use that information to help make decisions on which majors would best suit you and your interests.

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