Dear Fellow Parent,
Choosing a vocational path is one of life’s defining moments because it often sets the stage for lifelong career success or disappointment. Sadly, one third of Americans say they hate their jobs, and two thirds of workers say they’ve chosen the wrong career.
What-to-do-after-high-school can be a daunting decision for teens because there are so many paths to choose from with costly investments of time, money, and energy attached to each. Students wonder, What if I choose wrong? For example, What if God has wired me to be an electrician (no pun intended), but I spend a couple of years and lots of money pursuing something else before I figure that out?
As the parents of three teens, my husband and I wanted to help our kids consider questions such as: Is college for me? If so, what should I major in? If not, what are good career choices? Can I make sufficient income to justify my education investment, avoid excessive debt, and be financially independent? Does my dream job fit with my life values (now and in the future)?
My family found the Career Direct assessment and consultation to be valuable tools in guiding our kids through this planning process.
Career Direct is an online personality assessment that measures a student’s personality traits, interests, natural abilities, and life values, specifically to provide guidance in career planning. Through a 24-page detailed report, and a two-hour optional consultation, students (and their parents) view their unique results and learn occupational directions that would be a good match for them.
Kevin (my husband) and I initially experienced the Career Direct Consultant Model when our oldest daughter was first being recruited as a Junior in high school to play volleyball. The coach asked her what career she wanted to pursue and, like a lot of teens, she really wasn’t sure. Before visiting campus and any further sports discussions, we wanted to know if this particular college would be a good “fit.” We were extremely pleased with the entire Career Direct process! Our daughter came away with an understanding of how God designed her and a few career paths to research and consider. (And she was pleased to learn that the interested school offered a good program for her intended major based on her assessment results.)
It’s worth noting, however, that the assessment is not just for academic students. (In fact, college may not be the best plan for every student!) Recently, I was getting my hair cut at a local beauty college. This gal was awesome at cutting short hair. When I complimented her, she said, “I’ve finally found my passion! I love cutting hair. I just wish I had figured it out before going to IPFW, changing my major 7 times, and graduating with a General Education degree and tons of debt.” On top of the debt she had already incurred, she was currently paying about $20,000 to attend Cosmetology School.
Everyone’s plan will look different, but everyone needs a plan! Everybody is good at something. Each person is a unique creation and has a calling on his or her talents, skills and abilities. (The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word voca which means “to call.”) The key to success is twofold: 1) find a good vocational fit for you, and 2) develop a workable plan to achieve your vocational goal. (This includes how to afford the needed training or education and how to complete it in the least amount of time.)
If a student’s plan includes attending college, the financial and time considerations are extremely important. Consider the following statistics:
- More than half of college students change their major at least once. (per Indiana University)
- Per the College Board, the average bachelor degree completion (nationally) is now 54 months (at 4.5 months per semester, this equals 6 years)
- According to Jack Tharp, the I.U. Senior Director of Financial Literacy, the added cost of one extra semester of college is a 10% premium or close to $10,000 (For students attending I.U. Bloomington).
Of course, if a student attends an out-of-state or private university or college, the financial implications become exponential. Yet, beyond finances, there are other important considerations, particularly for faith-based families. A significant transition takes place in the college years as teens search for identity, shifting from parental control and dependence to self-control and more self-reliance. Some students will “lose their way” (and faith) if they attend a college that is not a good fit for them. The results of nearly 25 years of research consistently reveal that those who do not attend a Christ-centered college will experience a decline in religious values, attitudes, and behaviors during college (ChristianCollegeGuide.net).
Obviously the Career Direct process can’t figure everything out for your student or family, but it certainly can help in thinking through and discussing the important considerations on the front-end of a vocational decision.
For more information about Career Direct, check out these links:
I personally was so impressed with Career Direct that I decided to attend training to become a certified Career Direct Consultant. As a consultant, I have the privilege of administering the online test and consulting with clients about their results (in person or via Skype/FaceTime).
If you would like to schedule an assessment and consultation, or if you have any questions or comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org