March 18, 2022
Career Planning for High School & College Students
Written by Rachel Eddins
Get a Head Start on Your Career Path
Knowing your career goal is an important predictor of success in academic programs. Once you’ve decided on a career path, developing skills and gaining experience can propel you to landing a rewarding job at graduation. You might also choose to pursue professional school or graduate training and need help with the admissions process. The more prepared you are, the greater your chances for success in finding and beginning your first career.
Eddins Counseling Group offers career planning services for high school students and college students to select appropriate educational programs, choose a major and career path, and launch their first career. Career planning is also available for identifying skills and experience necessary to compete for jobs, internships, and professional programs, including admission essay review and mock interview practice. Our career counselors have worked both in industry or human resource functions as well as college or university environments and understand what colleges, admissions committees and employers are looking for as well as the pressure and confusion of making your first major career choice.
Need to Choose a College Major?
Choosing your college major? Thinking about your first major career choice can feel overwhelming. How do you choose a college major between the thousands of options available?
How does that translate into a major? The truth is, you just have to start somewhere.
Many students believe they have to decide their final career while still in college – they do not. Most people in the workplace change not only their job but their entire career field more than once.
Each step along the career path provides a foundation for the steps that follow. At least 35% of people are in jobs not related to their college major.
You also can’t predict the path that your career will take in the future. Unexpected opportunities may present themselves and so on.
Choosing a College Major
Choosing a college major can be an overwhelming decision for many students. Choosing a major can also impact which college you attend as some majors aren’t offered at every university. Career planning can save you a tremendous amount of time and money that can be lost by changing majors or even universities. There are more career opportunities available than ever before, which can be exciting, but also overwhelming.
So, how do you choose a college major? The first thing to keep in mind is that you are just choosing an area of study. This does not seal your fate forever in a career you don’t enjoy, though it can impact your career options.
When it comes to choosing a college major, students often fall in one of two categories: either overwhelmed by the choices and unsure which is the best fit, or unaware of available careers except those he or she is exposed to such as a doctor, lawyer, or parent’s careers.
It can be challenging, even paralyzing to choose a major without knowing the exact job it will lead to in the future. Your career path is a journey that unfolds as you take each step. You don’t have to know exactly what you’re going to be doing, but rather which direction you want to move towards.
As you move forward, you’ll become exposed to new opportunities that you’ve never heard of and gain experience that shifts your direction. So for now, keep the pressure off yourself about deciding the fate of your whole career. You don’t have to choose the exact career, just the field of study.
Choose a College Major that Reflects Who You Are
If you choose something you find interesting, you’re more likely to do well, achieve better grades, participate more in related activities, and talk about your field of study with interest and enthusiasm. These factors can all increase your chances of landing an internship and ultimately, a job. Our philosophy is that you have a much better chance of becoming successful and even talented in something you’re good at that comes naturally to you. This helps to ensure your career success even in times of a down economy, industry fluctuations, and other career challenges.
There is a balance between choosing something you can get excited and interested in and choosing something practical. We certainly want you to have opportunities for career success once you graduate. A career counselor can help you weigh these decisions based on the realities of the job market and your particular career interests.
To help expand potential career options while career planning, we often start with career assessments. Career assessment tests can help you identify fields of study and career paths that are likely to be a good fit for you.
This information is based on your personality, interests, and strengths as it relates to other people with similar profiles who enjoy their careers. Working with a career counselor can be beneficial as your assessment results are interpreted in a way that is meaningful and unique to you. This career guidance gives you greater clarity in your career decision-making process, which you can draw from throughout your career. You’ll have a foundation of knowing “who you are” and why certain choices work for you. Experience will teach you the rest.
A Career Assessment & Personality Test Can Assist You in Discovering:
- Career fields of interest to you
- Your personality strengths and preferences
- Your motivated skills
- Your work and life values (job security, time for family life, appreciation of contributions)
- Your goals (the vision and purpose of your career and personal life)
- Your non-negotiable needs
- Your college major
Assessments selected are based on years of research and are some of the most widely used in career planning. Results will be interpreted in a way that is meaningful to you in pursuing your career goals.
There is no career test that will tell you what to major in. Furthermore, the decision of choosing a major is not one that should be taken lightly. Tests cannot solve your decision-making problems.
There are many factors in occupational choice and satisfaction besides what a few career assessment instruments reveal.
These factors include physical and mental health, values, personality characteristics, family circumstances, geographic location, job market conditions and trends, education, skills, abilities, cultural/ethnic/gender identification, passions, and so forth.
How Career Assessments Can Help
Career assessments can be one tool to help you choose a college major. The process of deciding on a career is indeed complex and unique for each individual.
Assessments can help you identify and verify individual characteristics and how those characteristics fit into different occupations. Personality assessment instruments can help you: identify possible job titles to explore, meaningful work environments, compatible interests, and congruous values.
Career assessments can be combined with other information to stimulate and enhance career exploration and choose a college major.
One type of career assessment test available is an interest inventory. Interest inventories follow the rationale that individuals having similar interest patterns to those found in an occupational group would probably find satisfaction in that particular group.
This type of assessment provides you with occupations to explore based on this one factor. Taken in consideration with other aspects of yourself it can be a great place to start in your career exploration.
Personality assessment is another factor that can be considered in making career decisions.
Our Approach to Career and Personality Assessments
Our approach to using career testing in the career counseling process is not a one-size fits all approach. Your career path is unique, just as your life experience, skills, strengths and personality is unique. When you work with one of our career counselors, we will help you find language to understand your strengths, skills and personality. We will also help you pinpoint careers that might be a good fit for you. However, we do this through a combination of the career assessment data and our interview with you.
Our career counselors have years of experience and understand the nuances evident in your experience as well as the career testing information. We know how to put this together in a way that is meaningful and specific for you.
Each career assessment report may provide you with you a list of potential career options that on their own may or may not be relevant for you. However, through a customized, guided exploration with an experienced career counselor, we can help point you in the direction of careers that might be a better fit for you.
We go beyond identifying careers to help you really understand which factors provide meaning and satisfaction in your career and to identify ways to obtain them. Your career assessment results can be useful for career choice, career change and career management and progression.
Career Planning & Deciding on a Career
Deciding on a career can be difficult when you don’t have much experience to draw from. We recommend that you start by completing career assessments and working with a career counselor to understand “who you are.”
Once you have this foundation you can begin to research careers and make some tentative career decisions. Your next step is to gain experience.
You might start with extracurricular, volunteer, or internship opportunities. These can be great resume building activities as well as providing you the opportunity to try out your interests. You’ll be exposed to new career possibilities and discover the realities of others (some careers just aren’t what they look like on TV). Gaining this experience as a student will also prepare you for deciding on a career path and landing your first job when you graduate.
Make an Informed Career Decision
You can make an informed decision. And the more informed you are, the more comfortable and confident you can feel in your choice.
Generally, making an informed career decision includes considering your unique characteristics and how they relate to various occupations and college majors.
Factors to examine include your: abilities, interests, personalities, values, past work and leisure experiences, and total lifestyle as well as information about jobs – their availability, entrance requirements, and growth potential.
The more you understand about yourself, the better your decisions will be and the more effectively you will be able to implement those decisions.
Steps to follow in choosing a career typically include:
- Assess yourself.
- Evaluate work tasks and environments.
- Identify occupations to explore.
- Find strategies to stay motivated.
Additional Questions to Consider:
Choosing a major/career is a decision that requires careful thought, planning, and work. What do I want to do? This is a big question.
This question can be broken down into smaller questions such as:
- What do I want to do on a day-to-day basis?
- Where do I want to be in one year? Five years? Ten years?
- What would I like to have accomplished in one year?
- What kind of people do I want to work with?
- What kind of working environment do I find most comfortable?
- What kind of working environment allows me to be most productive?
- What motivates me to do my best?
What kind of career do you want? What do you do well and enjoy doing? Answers will help you identify your strengths and help you to decide on what contributions you can make in the marketplace.
The choice of a major and the subsequent career path that one follows is largely related to life satisfaction and mental health. The choice of a career is a vital aspect not only of one’s lifestyle but also of one’s physical and emotional well-being.
Work satisfaction is directly related to employee absenteeism and job turnover.
Career counseling can help you understand yourself, choose a college major or make a career choice. Career counseling can also help you clarify career goals, career direction, and methods for achieving those goals.
As you begin to develop a better understanding of yourself you will also improve your self-confidence.
Pursuing Graduate or Professional School
You might also choose to pursue professional school or graduate training and need help with the admissions process. The more prepared you are, the greater your chances for success in finding and beginning your first career.
Gaining admission can be very competitive for both graduate school and professional programs such as pharmacy, law, optometry or medical school. Our career counselors have worked with and participated on admissions committees (attended professional school ourselves), and helped numerous students navigate the admissions process.
If you are on this path, you will definitely want to be clear as to why this is the best path for you.
Admissions committees are looking for specifics and not general answers to this question. They want to know that you are passionate about this work, will be successful in the program, and reflect well on the university after you graduate. These are students are who committed and dedicated to their chosen field of study and set themselves apart from other students. Clarifying your career path with a career counselor can make it easy for you to articulate these reasons both verbally in an interview and through your written essay.
We can help you:
- Clarify why you are uniquely suited to this career path
- Write a well-written personal statement
- Develop a resume or curriculum vitae
- Prepare for your interview through mock interview practice
Are You Writing Personal Statements for College or Graduate School?
Need to submit a personal statement as part of your application but aren’t sure what to write? We can help! A career counselor can help you identify possible topics for your essay and help you highlight characteristics about yourself that admissions committees value. Casey Radle is our expert in personal statements for college and graduate admissions. She has a proven track record of excellent writing and proofreading skills and would love to assist in:
- Coming up with attention grabbing introductions
- Identifying relevant, meaningful themes
- Structuring and organizing your essay so that it flows nicely
- Proofreading and editing
Your personal statement for college or graduate admission essay is one of the most important aspects of your application, spend the time it takes to show the reader what makes you unique. You want to show what commits you to the field you are applying for as well as how you will enhance the diversity of the student population. Address what aspects of the program appeal to you above other programs. Be concise and specific. Think about how your background, skills, abilities and goals match the school’s program and philosophy.
Our career counselors can help you:
- Identify career paths to explore
- Find opportunities to gain experience
- Prepare for and find your first job through job search strategies, resume building, and interview practice
Land Your Dream Job
Get instant access to your free ebook.
7 Steps to Positive Career Changes
Get instant access to your free ebook.
Identify Your Skills
Get instant access to your free ebook.