Career Counselor Advises Teens to
Plan Now for Future
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Ninety percent of todays high school graduates go to
college. Roughly 60 percent of those college freshmen start
with an undeclared major.
The minimum cost per student for a post high school education
is $50,000. The average student debt upon college graduation
Peg Hendershot, director of Career Vision, a consulting service
in Glen Ellyn, provided those figures when she spoke recently
at Neuqua Valley High School to parents and high schoolers
about researching careers.
Know why and in what youre investing, she
Having a career choice in mind from the beginning steers
your search for college majors, which, in turn, guides your
choice of college, academic criteria and environment.
Career-focused students are confident, motivated to
persist, and earn their degree on time, Hendershot said.
Every extra year spent in college is a year out of the
work force and a years lost income.
Practice backward planning. Envision the career, then the
major, then the college. Colleges are only too happy to have
freshmen enter undeclared and just explore the curriculum.
Career planning while in high school results in a college
student who is motivated and confident, feels less frustration
and anxiety, and spends less time and money achieving the
degree. Thats true even when they change majors, a common
practice, Hendershot said.
Theres nothing wrong with changing a major if
youre working a plan, she said.
How is a high schooler to imagine how he or she might fit
into the work world?
Start by understanding yourself. Narrow the field somewhat.
Tap into your parents knowledge of the work world. Tap
into your parents friends, and your friends parents,
to widen the scope. Research a few careers enough to
do short interviews with someone in the field.
Interests and aptitude guide career choices, but high schoolers
cant know much about their interests because they have
not been exposed to much. Students choose from a limited palette
of what they know: medicine, law, forensic science.
There are many more law and medicine students today than
there are jobs in those industries, Hendershot said. Television
crime shows display interesting careers that solve the problem
in 30 minutes.
Another hot job choice is sports therapy.
Its what they can see, what they can touch,
she said. They aspire to a job that is tangible.
But most of the work of todays information society
is hidden, and parents are a students best resource
for getting a peek in.
Adolescents are occupationally and educationally ambitious,
but lack basic information on educational requirements. Conduct
information interviews for several different jobs. Know how
many years youll need to achieve your goal, Hendershot
Meteorology is a long road in school, leading to a
highly competitive field. A bachelors degree in psychology
will not make you a psychologist.
Select majors that support careers that appeal to you,
and fit what you know about yourself. Start thinking tool-kit.
What can you put in your tool-kit?
Not only are high schoolers unaware of the work world, but
that world itself is changing at increasing speed. Neural
networks, sensory recognition, green businesses, gene therapy,
distance learning, weight management and gerontology loom
large. The ability to get knowledge and stay connected will
be ever more important.
Understanding yourself is key, Hendershot said.
Aptitude, interest, temperament are the best predictors
of career success. Parents want their kids to be happy, to
know success. Success is getting what you want. Happiness
is wanting what you get.