Earlier this month, all parents at my kids Uptown School were invited to participate in a career fair.The purpose of the event was to introduce students to their career fields of interest by meeting with career professionals from those chosen fields.
Seeing this as an opportunity to interact with students without receiving deadly “you’re embarrassing me” stares of from my own kids; I signed up.
The speakers and grade 9-11 students first attended a short general briefing then took part in informal group presentations they chose.
It was a great event; there was a big turnout of parents with different career backgrounds; from medicine to aviation to zoology. Students listened, watched and asked questions. The smaller class group presentations allowed for a relaxed interactive setting. One could tell that some had a clearer direction of where they were headed. I have to say I felt the big burden of those who didn’t.
And so, from gathering student feedback collected, talking to the school counselor and some parents, it dawned on me the big amount of pressure some students must be feeling to make that “right choice”.
This is not to say that the parents themselves had not undergone similar pressure back then; but it’s considerably different I think.
I mean, think about it. Since their early years, students now undergo not only regular school tests; but other International standard tests; IBT, ISA, PISA.. etc. They are great tools that tell you where you stand amongst your school, regional and International peers. And then some more tests like CAT; the Cognitive Abilities Test which defines the learning methods you are more receptive to and even what grades you are likely achieving now and “ if challenged”.
Add to that, almost every school has a higher education counselor, holds college/career fairs, brings in professional and motivational speakers ..etc; the list goes on.
Some parents feel this is not enough and take it a step further; scatter college applications around the house; “drop by” colleges while on family holidays; all unplanned, of course.
Oh look! What a nice looking college. let’s see that they have inside, shall we?
We don’t retweet much but when Bill Gates lately tweeted advice to college grads; good parents pass it on, I just did.
I’ll be honest here; on career day I did set out with the “How lucky are they?” state of mind before I even got to school.
And yes I DO still see the advantages, privileges and open access to the great resources they have at hand. But I also see that by offering them these; most parents expect them to be more decisive, much sooner than later.
We should all remember that even if ten career tests tell you will be brilliant in the medical field; if there’s no fire in your belly for it; you’re not going there. Ken Robinson talked about "the element" as not only the natural aptitude to do things well but to have the desire and passion to do them well.
And so what I'm saying is; in this overwhelming age; remind them that they are not heading for doom or failure if they still don't know. Finding that passion and drive will take more than a few tests and for some, a little or a lot more time. People are allowed to change their mind in college or work…. repeatedly.