What Did Your “Career Preparation” Look Like?

“Did you know at HS age what you wanted to be?”   This question was in the middle of a longer thought-provoking email discussion with a reader.  I was intrigued for a variety of reasons.  The question seemed to lead down several trails.  Yet, I think these paths all merge at the end.

1)  The first trail is a memory. I sometimes look back on my own ‘career preparation’ and marvel.  I agonized very little over that path, for almost embarrassing path-of-least-resistance reasons. Painful as it is to admit, I proceeded through college in a state of blissful ‘un-concerned-ness’.  That I should have somehow ended up doing what I loved, in a subject I loved, at a level that suited me – and getting paid for it – is often amazing to me.  I look back and wonder who wrote that script.  I almost feel guilty.

2)  On the far other end of the spectrum, of course, there are students who want a challenging career, but have no idea what they want to do or be, even well into college, and they are concerned, even panicked.  I used to see it all the time as an advisor and professor.  Students feel so much outside pressure to pick a major, or a career path.  I believe we need to accept that uncertainty and help them through these times. Indeed, this should be OK, even normal!  It should be a time of exploration and dabbling, NOT a time of being forced into choices too early – either by course requirements or ‘declare your major by such-and-such’ rules of some kind, even if it delays their (or someone’s) plan for graduation-in-four-years.  (I know, I know. They should then be reminded this could be costly financially!  I’m not ignoring that. But there are cases where it would be well worth it – even financially – in the longer run.)

3)  And, there are also those students who know exactly where they want to be at 16 – and that’s OUT of school!  The traditional wisdom is that dropping out is generally an unwise decision. And I don’t disagree in general.  But I’ve always thought – and I say this carefully – that ‘dropping out’ should be made slightly easier (while being counseled) IF it was also somehow made easier for the student to ‘drop back in’ from weeks to years later, when they discovered they wanted to.  They would come back more motivated, with better perspective.  Perhaps the new Adult High School in Springfield can help in this regard! (See NewsLeader, July 11, p6.)

These different situations lead to one over-riding and fascinating question for me: “How do we most efficiently prepare the biggest percentage of our students for the futures ahead of them, when they don’t yet know what they want to do?  How do we prepare them both for making a both a living and a life?

How do we give them choices, and still provide depth in the right places?  How do we walk the fine line between ‘broadly preparing them’ in general and ‘over- or under-preparing them’ in specifics?  How do we give them, as one example, enough math & science to help them be well-prepared citizens, without stuffing them with more esoteric ‘requirements’ if they don’t later pursue a career in math and/or science?

These are age-old and understandably complex questions. They remain part of our constant ‘what is education?’ theme.  But today’s society and circumstances require ongoing, fresh, creative thinking about their answers.

Teaser: Book(s) Giveaway – September

More details will be added here as preparations continue, but here is a Teaser:

As we plan for our Book Launch, we continue to seek ways to help our Event Benefactor, The Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks (BGCO). We will seek donations at various levels, and all donations will provide entries into the Book Giveaway Drawing.

All Levels of donations earn special seating and recognition in the program.

DONOR ($10 – $25) All donations here go directly to BGCO.  Donations will earn entries into the drawing as follows:  $10, two (2) entries; $15, three (3) entries; $20, four (4) entries; $25, five (5) entries.  

SPONSOR ($30 – $50):  First $25 directly to BGCO, the rest may be designated for a special event cost.  Details to follow.

UNDERWRITER ($75 & up):  First $25 directly to BGCO, the rest to completely underwrite some expense of the event  Details to follow.