Does your child have a plan after he or she graduates high school? The State of Michigan requires students to create an educational development plan (EDP) as early as seventh grade and update it every year.
But that can be a tall order for kids — especially as they approach the end of their high school years.
“A lot of students lose motivation by the end of their high school journey. They kind of fizzle out because K-12 has been a long time for them,” says Sarah Strohbeck, the Career Readiness and Counselor Consultant with the . “As they approach their senior year, they’re usually feeling done with school and they’re ready to move forward.”
So, what can a person do as graduation approaches with no idea about what to do next? The first step, according to Strohbeck, is to talk to a school guidance counselor, who is well-versed in all of the options available to students.
“There are many access points to careers now,” Strohbeck explains. “This includes trade schools, ‘stackable credentials,’ which are short-term certifications, apprenticeship programs and more.”
Certifications can take anywhere from six weeks to a year, depending on the area of study, and are less of a commitment than a university. This allows more flexibility for students to explore and find where they truly fit in the world.
“Certificates are great because it’s less of a commitment than a degree,” Strohbeck adds. “They can switch after a year if it’s not right for them.”
In addition to talking to their school counselors, students can also look for special career-building events, like the Operation Senior webinar, an event that the MISD held in May.
This program, which Strohbeck plans to do again next year, allowed students to talk to representatives from the military, trade schools and more to help the make a decision about their next step. Families can view this year’s webinar here:
Teachers and parents should also talk to students about the skilled trades with the same energy and enthusiasm they put into talking about college readiness — and they should encourage students to look at different options they may want to try, without pressuring them one way or another.
“We put way too much pressure on a student to make a decision of work with the expectation that it’s a one and done decision. We have to change the conversation with those students to help them realize that they can try different things and that if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t mean they failed,” Strohbeck says. “Making a plan doesn’t need to be what you’re doing the rest of your life, it’s just next rung on the ladder.”
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