In the beginning, I did not like career counselling. I saw it as the “fluffy” part of a school counsellor’s job. Compared to cognitive behavioural therapy or grief counselling, it did not dive deeper into the inner person. I thought that anyone could do career counselling. All a person needed was a working knowledge of the post-secondary world, some insight into scholarships and willingness to take some time and help a student look at requirements on a university website. Most of this information could be gathered through web pages and college catalogues.
I have come to realize how wrong this view was. I took on a new role ten years ago at an outreach school. These are alternative high schools for students who have not experienced success in traditional “brick and mortar” schools. The previous counsellor of the school did extensive career planning with his students. It did not take me long to understand why. For students who had dropped out of school, there was a need to find a new purpose for attending. Career exploration activities was a way to find that purpose. It built a motivating vision of the future. And it was essential for helping students choose appropriate and meaningful courses. Career planning is now mandatory for all the students at the outreach school.
As I mentioned, my primary reason for incorporating career counselling with all my students is to help them find a purpose for school. Most of my students experience stress around school. Career planning has been found to reduce the academic stress of school. (Sharma, 2014) I have also found that there is an interesting gap when it comes to career planning. Often schools may feel that parents will help their children explore careers and post-secondary options. Levine (2013) found that parents themselves are unsure how to help their children.
Parents assume that their children are capable of finding information about post-secondary programs and related careers on their own. This is too bad because parent expectation is the second most important determinant as to whether a student will attend post-secondary study or not. Proper academic preparation is the most important factor. And if we lower a student’s stress, they are more likely to engage in their work. Helping students carry out career planning ends this cycle.
Levine, K. A. (2013). History Repeats Itself : Parental Involvement in Children ’ s Career Exploration L ’ histoire se répète : La participation des parents dans l ’ exploration de carrière pour enfants, 47(2), 239–255.
Sharma, V. (2014). Role of Career Decision-Making in the Development of Academic Stress among Adolescents. International Journal for Research in Education, 3(6), 58–67.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA