As students turned in their course requests for next year, I spent a fair amount of time last week reviewing those registration forms to make sure all of the little details were in place—such as, did they get their form initialed by teachers when the class required instructor approval? Besides checking details, it is my role in this process to be a gatekeeper to make sure each students course requests are consistent with a plan that will prepare them for their career choices. I did this last year as well, and to be honest, I had to discuss the issue with many students because of frequent disconnects between future goals and course requests. And to take it from honest to blunt, most of those disconnects were what I could call “slacker” schedules that made an easy and fun year a higher priority than classes that offered the best preparation possible.
I am happy to report that this year was completely different. Very, very few schedules did not have either a good connection, or a great connection, between current preparation and career goals. I will admit, I attribute a lot of this change to parental efforts and coaching behind the scenes. I think our staff probably deserves some credit as well, but between parents and teachers providing adult (mature) guidance in this process, we are getting much better results. I offer my sincere thanks to all of the parents who provided advice, and set expectations for their students in making solid decisions to prepare for their futures.
I think parents may be able to help us take the next step in guiding students to be even more prepared for the future as well, and in this way partner with Mr. Cole in the guidance office. If your student has a couple of possible career choices, they would be very wise to research the following types of questions. Who offers training programs for those careers or jobs? What are the entrance requirements for those programs? What scores on the ACT or Accuplacer do you need to enter the program without needing remedial coursework first? Does the program require a foreign language? If entrance into the program is competitive, what do I need to be in a position to be accepted?
Ideally, some of these questions need to begin being answered in the freshmen year. For example, should my freshmen son take Spanish? If one of his career choices does not require it (Engineering), but the other does (Education), he would be wise to take Spanish because he is still undecided. Other questions can wait until a student’s junior year, such as if a student plans to go into a LTC program, and the math requirement is the equivalent on the Accuplacer of a 20 ACT score in math. If that student’s score is lower than required, a math class in their senior year may be the best possible choice so the student can re-take the entrance test and score higher. Asking your high school children to research these questions on-line would be a great activity for every student but we have found it does not happen without parents pushing the expectation.
Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year we will be fully implementing a 6-12 college and career exploration software (Career Cruising) lead by our MS and HS guidance departments. We will be instituting a required 8th grade and 11th grade individual parent meeting. We believe these two meetings are going to greatly benefit all parties involved. The meetings are going to be focused around our students’ college and/or career plans. 8th grade meeting topics will include: high school schedule, high school extracurricular offerings, interpretation of standardized test scores, career matchmaker results, and a student career presentation. 11th grade meeting topics will include: ACT information, college planning timeline, senior year course options, district assessments, and guidance in regards to important parent/student conversations that should be occurring throughout the students’ junior year. In addition to their junior parents meeting, high school students will also have a spring and fall guidance meeting throughout their high school career. These “check-ins” are meant to keep the lines of communication open between the students and the guidance department. Parents, the most important thing you can do is to stay actively involved and have continual conversations with your child about their future aspirations. Please feel free to contact Mr. Cole with any questions or concerns, and follow him on twitter to receive the most up-to-date information for all things guidance related (@OSDCounseling).