Every year high school student faces the anxiety laden challenge of deciding what they will do after graduating from high school. This is an important time in an adolescent's life where finding ones identity and understanding how to achieve their goals is very important part of development (Zunkner, 2006, p. 414). This paper will give various theories that a high school student can use to explore and crystallize what path he/she would like to take after high school.
As stated by Zunker (2006, p. 421) high school students are able to see the relevance of planning for their transition after high school. The National Career Development Guidelines have laid out three important components for career development; self knowledge, education and occupational exploration and career planning.
One theory that can be used to help an individual to explore their self knowledge is to take Holland's Self-Directed Search. Holland's Theory looks at a person's personality, which the results of the assessment can produce what an individual is competent in and their interest (Sharf, 2010, p. 129-130). Self-Directed Search is broken down into six categories; Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. This represents what a person would like to do in work environment based on their personality type. Holland understood that a person would be using a variety of personality traits in a work environment, so he created a three letter code that an individual can use to explore occupation that match a persons unique personality type (Sharf, 2010, p. 135-136). The Self-Directed Search also has an "E" form that high school students can take if they have difficulty reading and the assessment can also be
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easily hand scored so the student can obtain results immediately (Sharf, 2010, p. 145). A good follow up to this inventory is to have students research the careers they came up with, so that the student can obtain answers to their questions and have a clearer understanding of the career field (Brown, 2007, p. 183.
Another career development theory is to have students engage in education and exploration. One such program is Academies which are developed based on the feedback from industry, as to what occupation are needed in the near future (Brown, 2007, p. 142). Academies are great way to prepare high school students for the work force prior to leaving high school. The main concept behind this program is for students to have their academics infused into the career standards of what is needed to successful enter that specific occupation. This allows the students to understand the details of a specific career and upon graduation the student would be able to take certification exam and/or be ready to receive further education or training (Brown, 2007. p. 142). Another education and exploration program is the School-to-Work Program. This program is for all high school students and the intent is to have them explore and develop the necessary skills to be competitive in today's work force (Zunker, 2006, p. 428-429). The main point is for students to be able to experience work standards in the classroom setting and then take what they have learned and applying it in a real world situation. To do this business mentors are brought in to team teach with teachers and then career shadowing or internships are arranged for student to learn the skills and education that is needed in that specific career (Zunker, 2006, p. 429). Through this experience students gain valuable insight and are able to see how problem solving, critical thinking, communication and
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interpersonal skill are used in the world of work. The Tech-Prep Program is yet another academic program that is designed to help a high school student through the career development processes. The program is a partnership with post-secondary school and/or the apprenticeship program (Zunker, 2006, p. 427). In the first years students receive theory in a particular career area such as automotives and then in the second year they apply what they have learned through the Tech-Prep program. For instance, automotive theories are placed into the schools core academics and the benefit of this is that the community colleges that have partnered with the high school will take these classes as college credit (Zunker, 2006, p. 427). As Zunker (2006, p.426) states the main focus of Tech-Prep is to have high school students take rigors courses so that they can be competitive and ready for the 21st century. Finally, organizing a Career Day for the entire school can be very powerful. Students are able to listen to speakers and make personal contact with an adult in that specific career field (Brown, 2007, p.191). Students can take a survey of what occupations they would like to see and from the results of that survey choose five speakers that they would like to listen to. Anther component that can be added to career day is to get parents involved, so that they can be apart of their child's career development (Brown, 2007, p. 191-192).
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Creating a Transition Center or College and Career Center would be an example of career planning in career development. Having a center where students can receive help in planning their transition out of high school can be a very power support system. Students that visit these centers can receive encouragement and guidance to make decision that can help them in their academic and extracurricular activities while still in
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high school and planning their training/education for after high school (Zunker, 2006, p 432). Counselor can take what a student has done throughout their career development and starts putting the pieces together to form a transition plan by utilizing resource in the community to provide opportunities for work or higher education (Zunker, 2006, p. 431). Within this process the counselor needs to insure that the student are leaving with the necessary skill to meet the challenges that face the student, for instance, interviewing skill, how to fill-out an application, and resume (Zunker, 2006, p. 431).
High school students have a huge decision to make before graduating from school and it's vital that a proper career development program is in place to assist students. Allowing students to explore career opportunities and understand what their strengths and weakness are will aid students in the decision making process. The key to all of this is to give students the resources and support needed to find their passion and motivate them to accomplish their goals.
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