College & University Career Testing for Gr. 11 & 12 Students
FALLACY: Guidance Counsellors will help your child choose a career.
As a former Head of Guidance with the Toronto Board of Education and high school guidance counsellor for three School Boards in Ontario for over 10 years prior to that, I can tell you from first-hand experience -- Guidance counsellors do NOT have the time to thoroughly work one-on-one with your child to help them decide upon a career area nor choose the university or college programme best suited to their needs.
Sadly, the overwhelming majority of graduates heading off to University do not know what they want to be when they graduate. Many have chosen programmes with little or no thought as to why they are choosing them -- some go because their friends are in the same programme, some go because they assume that once they get to University or College they will figure out then what they want to be. They won't get any help choosing a career at University either.
Boards of Education realized this -- and introduced several things to try and help students choose careers. One of these initiatives was the grade 9 province-wide "Take Your Child To Work" (otherwise known as Job Shadowing) where the student goes with a parent and follows them around all day at work. A HUGE make-work project for counsellors as many parents have jobs where their child cannot follow them around all day. Although the kids mostly enjoy this day (mainly because it's a day off from school) it does very little, if anything, in helping them choose a career area for when they graduate. The reality is -- very few children follow in their parent's chosen career path.
"Career Guidance" courses, often mandatory, were also created to compensate for this problem. The problem with this, however, is that each child is unique -- so a classroom approach to choosing a suitable career cannot possibly work successfully. These career classes also spend a lot of time on writing resumes, going for interviews, searching for jobs, practicing communication skills, etc. Good things to know -- but what about their career ? College ? University ?
Testing -- that is good tests (not free ones on the internet) -- cost money. Money that the Boards of Education, with their continual budget cuts -- do not have. Schools cannot afford to do a battery of interest inventory tests. You are lucky if your son / daughter gets one test given. Often, teachers will find a free career inventory on-line -- and use that with the class. Well, you get what you pay for. To base a student's entire career choice (and resultant tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, accommodation and other expenses) on the results of ONE test, I think, is negligent and irresponsible.
Here is a direct quotation from the Ontario Curriculum Guide for Career Development:
"The guidance and career education courses offered in Grades 11 and 12 address some of the fundamental issues and topics introduced in Grades 9 and 10, but explore these issues in greater depth and complexity. All guidance and career education courses encourage both community-based learning and career exploration through a variety of community involvement activities, job shadowing, work experience and internships or mentorships. In addition, guidance and career education courses are particularly well suited for inclusion in programs designed to provide pathways to apprenticeship or workplace destinations, including the Ontario youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and in programs leading to a diploma with a Specialist High-Skills Major."
Note that there is nothing mentioned about interest inventory testing, or working one-on-one with these students.
WHY? Guidance counsellors do not have the time to work one-on-one with these students -- approximately 60 - 75% of the guidance counsellor's job revolves around paperwork -- NOT counselling (which is the reason I left the profession). Regular teachers, not counsellors, often teach the Career Guidance Course -- they are not trained in counselling and therefore, are ill equipped to do vocational couselling.
Isn't the whole reason they are in school is to prepare for a career?
Career testing is a specialized area but requires working 1 on 1 -- schools use a shotgun approach.
For the small percentage of students who know what they want to be -- this is adequate. For the rest of the students, who do not know what they want to be or what they want to study at college or university, let alone which college or university they want to go to -- this approach is DISASTEROUS.
The result of students heading off to college or university into the "wrong" programme are: the student becomes bored and discouraged and does not do well. They then either drop out mid-year (usually after first term exam results are posted) or fail out of their programme. Some finish the year, but don't go back for the next year. Some do go back, but switch their major -- because the first year was a waste of time -- it's not what they are interested in. Hopefully they get it right the 2nd year -- but if they don't, few try a 3rd time.
The Net Result?
- Wasted tuition for one year
- Wasted expenses for accomodation & meals if student lives away from home
- Wasted purchases of expensive text books and other school supplies
- Psychologically, student's self-esteem is battered.
- Students often come to the conclusion that university or college "isn't for them" when that isn't at all the case -- had they been in the programme they were suited to with a career goal in mind, they would have been interested and motivated in the programme. Now they are a drop-out.
- Student is back to square one with no clear goals as to what they want to be.
- Many just drop out and get a menial job, never to try university or college again.
This is all Preventable!
Over the course of several sessions, we will do the following:
- Meeting with the student and his/her parent(s) for an initial consultation
- Getting to know the student; his/her hobbies, interests, jobs, etc.
- Reviewing the student's transcripts
- Discussing educational goals -- college, university (B.A., M.A., PhD.?) etc.
Interest Inventory Testing. I will administer a total of 5 or 6 different interest inventories to determine the student's strengths, weaknesses, interests, skills, working preferences, learning styles and personality. This is done over 2 sessions on different days. The testing is sometimes done in a small group.
I analyse the test results and prepare a very detailed 9-10 page report as well as identifying several specific careers that the student would be suitable for. This list contains no less than 15 possible compatible careers.
We all meet again to review the report. The student is then given specific written instructions on a flow-chart, of the steps they need to take next. For example:
* I give you the websites where to find this information
- Research various careers of interest from the list I give them
- Look up job descriptions and choose their favourite 4-6 careers*
- See what the future outlook is for these careers (% increase) *
- Look up the institutions that offer training in those careers*
- Read the course outlines and course descriptions*
- Look at the statistics on each university or college*: teacher/pupil ratios, student satisfaction ratings (food, residences, student life), dropout rates, etc.
- Decide which universities or colleges to apply to, and which programme
By the time the student gets their report, they are usually highly motivated, as they see the correlation between their likes, strengths, aptitudes, interests, personality and their possible career areas. They are curious and excited to see what careers are on “the list” and often, there is a career identified that they hadn’t even thought of, but would definitely be interested in. For those students who had an idea of what career they should pursue, but weren’t quite sure about it, seeing it on the list confirms that they are making the right choice and gives them renewed confidence. Most of all, parents are relieved that they spending $10,000 - $15,000 to send their child off in the right direction.
All testing is done in our boardroom at the downtown Harbourfront location.
I offer a similar service to adults who have been downsized, laid-off, find themselves out of work due to company relocation or bankruptcy, or for those who simply want a career change. After working at your job for "x" amount of years, never really happy, and wondering if you should be working at some other career -- don't despair -- it is not too late to change. Maybe you have been successful in a career for a while now, but are bored or burnt out. This is also normal -- people can be suited for and be successful at many different careers. It's time for a change!
I will work with you on identifying a new career, including giving you several professional-level interest inventory tests. The ones I give to adults are different than the ones I use for students since adults bring a lot of "life experience" to the table. The professional level assessments take into account many actual tasks you likely have been exposed to in your life and/or career.
Adult career assessment & testing are done on an individual basis.
We welcome the opportunity to explore your new career with you ! .
Harbourfront Psychotherapy • Beaches Psychotherapy • Toronto