Creating an educational plan

In 2005, Harris Interactive polled over 1,200 eight to seventeen year olds. This survey revealed that our youth believe having goals is important to achieving success. Unfortunately, one-third of them do not feel prepared to develop a plan to achieve their goals. The obstacles they reported were:

Planning is an important part of school, work, and life. Yet there are few situations in which your children are actually taught what a plan is or how to plan. Even students who have personal or career goals often move from middle school to high school to postsecondary education and work without a well conceived plan. Plans help connect the present with the future; and research has consistently demonstrated that connecting school to one's future has positive consequences for young people.

Oregon now requires that all students have an education plan in order to graduate from high school. This requirement recognizes that planning helps students succeed in school and out. It encourages students to explore who they are and where they want to go, and set a course consistent with those goals. It is at the heart of personalized, active, and meaningful education.

As a parent, you can help your children develop plans to achieve their goals and support those efforts in their schools.

High school plans

High school is a time for preparing for next steps. The education plan during high school supports your children's preparation for college or career training, work, and other personal pursuits. It sets in motion, through short-term goals and action steps, a process of development, decision-making, and reflection.

As noted in Ingredients of Career Planning, career plans answer five basic questions. Your high school child should approach these questions with the following emphasis:

  1. Who am I?
    High school students are maturing and asserting their independence. They are having new experiences that will expand and refine their self-knowledge. As they learn new things about themselves, their education plan should identify these strengths and talents, interests and skills, values and beliefs. The plan should also reveal how they see these important personal characteristics connecting to their future.
  2. Where am I going?
    High school will engage your children if they embrace some dreams and have high expectations for achieving them. Their education plan should state goals, personal and career, that move them toward these dreams.
  3. How do I get there?
    High school will set the path your children will take to reach their dreams. They need to be clear and realistic about what they need to do to achieve the goals they have set. Their education plan should describe any educational requirements for reaching their goals during high school and beyond.
  4. What are my next steps?
    High school provides opportunities for your children to explore their dreams through their academic coursework, career-related learning, and extracurricular activities. Being planful about which of these opportunities they will take is important for insuring that they get them. Their education plan should describe actions they will take to pursue these opportunities - opportunities that help them refine and "try on" their dreams to make sure they "fit."
  5. Where am I now?
    Just as in middle school, your children need to continue to revisit their goals at regular intervals. Have they changed? Do they have new dreams? Did they achieve their short-term goals? Should they change their plan or take some new action to move toward their goals? Their education plan should invite ongoing reflection and revision. The plan should grow and develop as they grow and develop.