When it comes to preparing for college, getting exposure to different areas of interest early on is key to future success. After all, having a career in mind prior to entering college can save students – and parents – time and money. And early career exploration in Macomb County’s high schools aims to do just that.
“I have people that tell me that they have an entire college degree in an area that, once they had some exposure to it, they were like, ‘Yeah I really don’t like this,'” says Laura Arnold, a guidance counselor at Lakeview High School in St. Clair Shores. “So, in high school, we have electives for you to take so you can explore those opportunities and take advantage of them while they are still free.”
At the Macomb Intermediate School District, where career exploration is a priority for guidance counselors like Arnold who assist students with career exploration – and help them prepare during middle and high school registration months which takes place in February and March.
In addition, the district provides students with information on top career paths.
“The Macomb Intermediate School District continues to share the 50 top jobs as presented by the state,” says Pat Wynn, career services coordinator at the Macomb Intermediate School District.
“This information is available on the Career Cruising website,” Wynn adds. “It’s available to all students in Macomb County, so that they are aware of what the trending careers are now and for the next 10 years.”
In the seventh grade, MISD students are required to take an interest inventory. This is done through the district’s Career Cruising website, which summarizes career options that might be suitable for your child depending on his or her interests.
When students reach eighth grade, they receive a visit from Arnold in their math class. There, she talks about things that are available to each student.
“They need to review their course guidebook to know everything that’s available so they don’t just take classes that they’ve heard about or that their friends are taking,” Arnold says.
“Taking classes for the wrong reasons is kind of one of the biggest issues that we see for students. They should know what’s available and make choices based on what their interests are.”
Students should plan for not only the following year, but also look at what is beyond, Arnold adds. As they progress in high school and their required courses are completed, students have more flexibility to take elective classes.
Tips for families
When it comes to early career exploration in Macomb and elsewhere – as well as and planning that high school curriculum – here are seven tips for helping your student prepare.
Connect with your child’s counselor
“It’s important that students get connected with their counselors, because the counselors work with the students – and they lay out the road map for the four-year period,” Dr. Alesia Flye, chief academic officer with the Macomb Intermediate School District.
Research career outlooks
And do this often. “When you’re on a vacation this summer and you and your parents go someplace, and you see someone working and it looks like a cool job then go back into Career Cruising and research it,” Arnold advises teens. Students can research the job, see what kind of education they need, how much money they would make and more.
Go to open houses
“A lot of the programs in the schools have an open house night that allows parents and students to understand the expectations and goals of the programs ” Wynn says.
Look for job shadowing, internships, etc.
“With the robust programs now in high school, it is an opportunity for exploration so students don’t have to be locked in or make the final decision about their career. But certainly, if they have an idea about a career path they may be interested in,” Flye says, “there are some opportunities for job shadowing or an internship that will give them hands-on experiences.”
Refer to the course guidebook
“They really need to, no matter what district they are in, look at the course guide book,” Arnold says, “and think not only about the next year but what’s available after that – so they make the best use of their time while they’re in school.”
These inquires include: Does your child want to go to college? What college would he or she like to attend? What is that college looking for in a student (volunteer hours, grades, etc.)? Also, if your student is considering a certain career path, Arnold says be sure to ask questions about his or her interest – and avoid shutting down a career choice because it’s different than what you might prefer.
Utilize online resources
These include MI Bright Future. “MI Bright Future is a career development system that allows high school students to explore career options and connect to local professionals and businesses,” Wynn says. The growing database currently has almost 1,100 online career coaches and about 620 businesses.
For more information visit the MISD’s website.