4 Ways to Help Your Student Select a Career Pathway
What do you want to be when you grow up? This question is one that has been asked to elementary-aged children throughout the decades. In elementary school it is entertaining to hear the variety of responses received. As graduation approaches, it becomes stressful to both the student and the parent to find that choosing a career aspiration isn’t that simple. The stress only increases as many students believe they must choose one specific career. However, in selecting a career cluster and then a pathway, students are given the flexibility required to develop knowledge and skills that will help them be successful in a variety of careers in their chosen field.
HELPING YOUR STUDENT NARROW DOWN THEIR CAREER PATHWAY
- Start early. Begin discussing the topic of careers at an early point in your student’s education. In the elementary and early middle school years it can be as simple as pointing out various careers as you go about your day. As your student approaches the 6th and 7th grade, you should begin to discuss your student’s strengths and draw comparisons to various careers that utilize those strengths. Toward the end of 7th grade your student should be ready to narrow down their career aspirations to one or two career clusters.
- Provide access to a variety of career assessments. By the time your student reaches 8th grade, career assessments will be of great value. The appropriate assessments will allow your student to solidify their choice of career clusters and begin directing them toward a narrower selection of a career pathway. There are a considerable number of assessments available across the internet. Use caution when choosing initial assessments to ensure that they are scientifically studied and have validity. Nothing is more frustrating than having an assessment result cause a student to choose the wrong cluster and, therefore, drive them down the wrong pathway. In addition, in order to eliminate the chance of false results, it is important that you weave together a proper variety of career assessments. Some of these include interest inventories, basic skills assessments, and other established assessments that will provide further insight into possible pathways your student will find success in. This is also the time to take advantage of any career counseling or career exploration classes you may have access to.
- Enroll in career-related electives. Once your student has reached their freshman year, they should have narrowed down a career pathway. When making decisions on high school elective courses, it is beneficial to think ahead. Work to find at least four electives that follow the chosen pathway and will expose your student to the knowledge and skills needed in that career path. Regardless of the addition of any other electives, it is advantageous to have your student take one pathway-elective during each of their high school years.
- Stay flexible. The most important thing to keep in mind is that career choices remain flexible throughout one’s lifetime. During the primary and secondary years, the goal of career planning is that your student becomes familiar with their own strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations.
Most importantly, remember that it is He who has given special gifts and skills to each of His children. With adequate exploration and preparation, your student will be on their way to following their God-designed pathway.
Lisa Roark is passionate about helping students understand themselves in order to reach their God-given potential. Lisa is a creative teacher who works to bring joy into the classroom and to motivate students to achieve success. She enjoys utilizing her knowledge and skills to create an environment where students are challenged, encouraged, and motivated to strive for excellence. Her experience in the counseling and psychology field has not only provided her with content-area proficiency, but it has also given her experience in working with people of different aptitudes and skill sets.