How clear are your students plans for the future?

Good morning, Parents.

Does your high school student have a clear and informed plan for how to best prepare for the career they will pursue after high school, or do they only have vague and general ideas about their future plans? Have you discussed with them where their strengths and interests are and how that could point them toward a fulfilling career? Have they looked into what is required of them for entrance into the training programs for careers that interest them?

Here at OHS, we are increasingly trying to support students and families in thoughtfully considering these critical questions that are too often avoided. We are finding that struggling with these questions is critical on a couple of levels. The first reason is, of course, that we cannot help students to be as prepared as possible for their futures if we don’t have a pretty good idea of what that future requires. And the second reason is related, we find students who are genuinely preparing for their futures tend to show a great deal more motivation and personal investment in the current learning process than those who have only fuzzy plans or no idea at all. A good illustration of this has played out in the Medical Terminology class in the last couple of years. Medical Terminology is a rather demanding class, lots of memorization, a rapid pace to the class, and college-like expectations in many ways. Yet, we have had large numbers of students really show considerable motivation and learn at high levels because they view this class as critical in preparation for a career in health care. They are clearly highly invested in their learning in a demanding class. They probably also recognize that mastering all of the material in this class will really support their learning in programs after high school, so it is important to them personally. We see this dynamic play out all of the time in teaching your children, and it would be safe to say that we see a clear connection between students with clear plans for their futures and greater motivation and investment in learning in the present. Supporting and guiding improvements in this area will be a central focus of our guidance department, and we also see it as a great place for parents to partner with the school to support students.

We would envision parents supporting the guidance department career exploration processes both directly and indirectly. The indirect support would come in the form of parents regularly discussing with students what they like, and what they are good at, and starting to guide them in making connections with possible careers. Maybe a student won’t know right away that they want to be a pediatric nurse, but they may be drawn to helping others and health care in general. They can begin to research, and maybe even shadow, various possible professions to learn more first hand. They should do some research on-line to explore possible options for careers. Students should also look into program entrance requirements related to careers that interest them. Do they need certain ACT scores to enter the training programs so they don’t have to take remedial courses? What sort of course work is required in the training program? Can they take classes in HS that would meet requirements in their training program thus saving them time and money in the future? What skills will they need following high school to be successful in either the training program or the career itself? These sorts of questions begin to move a students from fuzzy ideas for the future to a more clear view of what preparations are needed.

We believe as a school, this is an area we have to be more intentional in working with students, and we also see considerable potential in partnering with parents in this area to really support students. Again, we are convinced that when students have a better view of what their future requires, it has a very positive impact on their motivation in their current preparations and learning. We hope a lot of parents will help us move forward in this area by discussing the topic frequently with your high school students. And we do not believe that the freshmen year is too early to have serious discussions about the future.

Have a great week,
Scott