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.