What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

The Importance of Career Assessments

Guest post by Lynne Bossart independent college advisor and owner of Muse College Consulting LLC

As a child, you probably had any number of answers to the question, “What do you want to be when you Muse College Consulting.grow up?” But, as a teenager and a college-bound student, the answer is not always so clear.  You may think you have to decide on your major before you even look at colleges. But did you know that according to the National Center for Education, about 80% of college students change their major at least once during their
college career?  And, “undecided” is one of the most popular majors for incoming college freshmen. In fact, there are jobs and careers that haven’t yet been invented but will be by the time you graduate college.  So, the real question is, “What do you need to know before you embark on your post-secondary path?” The ancient Greek aphorism, “Know Thyself”, holds true for students of all ages considering their future. Research has shown a significant correlation between happiness and success.  While not everyone is passionate about something, everyone is unique. The earlier you learn what makes you tick, the earlier you will be able to make informed decisions and plan a clear path to your future.

Enter career assessments and career exploration.  Career assessments can measure a person’s personality, abilities, interests, strengths, skills and values.  Career assessments can be taken at various stages of a person’s life: as a high school or college student or later in life for those seeking a career change.  While personalities seldom change, people’s interests, skills and values can develop and change as they grow and have real-life experiences.

As a college advisor, I strongly recommend that high school students take a series of career assessments as a sophomore or junior in high school; it is the starting place for all of my students to begin the college exploration and planning process.  Once students are aware of occupations that match the point at which their personality traits, interests, skills and values intersect, they can begin the process of career and college major exploration.  Many students discover occupations or college majors they’ve never heard of.  Even if a student is certain he or she wants to be an engineer, for example, he/she may discover that there are other occupations that hold more interest and utilize the same abilities, skills and knowledge that engineers possess.  While all paths may lead to Rome, many paths can lead to a student’s first choice career interest.

A high school student’s next step in career exploration is to research his/her various occupational interests to determine employment prospects, wage and salary outlooks, skills and values necessary to perform these jobs, as well as the education and certifications required for these occupations. When a student has narrowed down the list to 10 occupations and four or five corresponding post-secondary paths, he/she is ready to start the college search.  The choice(s) of a college major is but one of the many criteria necessary in building a “best fit” college list.

I find that students really enjoy this process of self-discovery and are relieved and less stressed when it comes to their college planning.  Most high schools utilize Naviance, which offers college and career planning tools, including career assessments.  Students should check with their guidance counselors for more information.

Lynne Bossart is an independent college advisor and the owner of Muse College Consulting LLC in Simsbury, CT.  She works with students and their families on all aspects of post-secondary planning and offers comprehensive college counseling services, from career exploration to the college search, essay brainstorming and review, creating application timelines, to financial aid and scholarship searches. You can reach Lynne to discuss your student’s needs at (860) 408-6419 or lynne@musecollegeconsulting.com.

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