Career planning and preparation

The number one reason students drop out of college is a lack of career focus. Even if they do stay in college, students who lack focus end up spending more time and money to earn a degree. With advance planning, your child can complete high school knowing why they are taking the next step, whatever it is, informed and focused on a goal. They will also be motivated to make the most of their four years in high school.

Planning connects exploration to preparation for one's future. It involves an increased emphasis on self-awareness, understanding of work and the skills and knowledge required for work, and connecting one's own preferences to the possibilities. It involves setting goals and taking action to reach those goals. It includes improving basic workplace skills such as personal management, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. It also deals with how work influences life-styles and the interrelationship of life roles.

What should my child be able to do in high school and early adulthood?

Here are 10 important career skills that your teens and young adult children can develop during their high school and college years:

  1. Demonstrate behaviors and decisions that reflect their interests, abilities, strengths, skills, talents, work values and needs.
  2. Demonstrate positive social skills and the ability to get along with others.
  3. Demonstrate acceptance of responsibility for their own behavior.
  4. Reflect on how their personal aspirations are changing with time and circumstances.
  5. Demonstrate adaptability and flexibility in responding to change.
  6. Identify personal, career, and educational goals, and demonstrate educational performance levels needed to attain their goals.
  7. Develop a career and education plan, with short-term and long-term objectives, to meet their goals.
  8. Use career information resources to evaluate their goals and support their plans.
  9. Demonstrate job search (writing a resume, completing an application, interviewing for a job) and general employability skills (teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, interpersonal skills, dependability, and use of appropriate technology).
  10. Identify the types of economic conditions and employment trends that may affect their career plans.

These skills cover some of the most important indicators included in the National Career Development Guidelines for the planning and preparation developmental stage. The guidelines describe what children and adults should understand and be able to do at various stages of their career development. They include specific goals and learning indicators grouped by the three principle domains:

This framework may help you think about the types of activities you can do to help with career planning and preparation through the high school and college years. (It is also reflected in the content of this website.)

See a list of all indicators for high school students and young adults