In an article from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Richard T. Carroll talks about the need for reform when it comes to college and career readiness. He states, “While high schools offer a variety of programs that help students transition to secondary life — be that college or career — there is general acknowledgment in education circles that more needs to be done.” Career planning tools for secondary students can fill the gap.
Carroll goes on to write, “Having a national common understanding of what skills a graduating high school student should possess (via the Common Core State Standards) sounds good. However, what is still missing is how to connect students in meaningful ways to the interests and passions that may lead to careers — whether or not that includes a college education.”
The purpose of education
Meanwhile, in high schools across the country, it’s the purpose of career counselors and educators to ensure students are aware of and prepared for their options after they graduate.
The need is there.
The desire is there.
The tools are there.
Educators just need to know where to find them.
YouScience Discovery is a career planning tool for secondary students
For AJ Mehlow, a business teacher at Fremont Ross High School in Ohio, the answer to this problem came when one of his students introduced him to YouScience Discovery.
YouScience Discovery is an aptitude-based career planning tool for secondary students. It uses psychometrically valid exercises to uncover natural talents and connect individuals to in-demand careers where their talents, and earned YouScience certifications, if applicable, empower natural success and satisfaction.
To better equip students for career readiness, AJ created a program using his students’ Discovery results to help them explore career options and validate matching aptitudes. He explained to his incoming freshman, “This is a college and career readiness class, so if you don’t want to go to college, you still have to figure out a career. When you graduate, you’re either enrolled, enlisted or employed.”
It’s important to note, not every secondary career pathway leads to college. In fact, Education Week reported, “During the 2020–21 school year, 120,000 fewer new high school graduates entered the nation’s colleges and universities than the year before, according to a new analysis by the College Board.”
Determining whether a student is college bound after graduation is critical when defining career pathways. And fortunately (for educators and students), Discovery lets students discover and explore the best possibilities.
Preparing an education pathway
An example is Ben, who’d never heard of a nurse anesthetist until his Discovery results matched his aptitudes to that career. Before taking Discovery, Ben’s plan was to work with his dad in the plumbing trade. But when his Discovery results revealed a different option, he said, “Wow this is really cool and now I know what I want to do.”
Discovery gave him a springboard to exploring options he wasn’t aware of before.
AJ added, “He [Ben] never even thought about going to college. That’s a prime example of how YouScience is helping shape their future career plans or professional plans. It’s opening doors like this where they can go in and research careers, they’ve never even thought of prior to taking YouScience.”
Uncovering students’ aptitudes
Here’s how it works: once students complete the YouScience Discovery aptitude exercises and an interest profile, they’re matched to dozens of careers that align with their aptitudes, interests or both! Each student’s results include “Describing You” language, such as, “I am a born researcher, consultant or advocate for a cause.”
The language helps students understand how they learn, think and work, while giving teachers feedback on how to best meet the needs of each student’s learning style. Students can then and in college applications.
In addition, students at schools using Precision Exams by YouScience can earn industry-recognized certifications that validate their knowledge and skills needed for jobs in all Career Clusters as well as for soft skills.
Connecting career opportunities
Helping to resolve the disconnect between secondary education and careers is Employer Connections, which is part of the YouScience Platform. It helps “connect students in meaningful ways to the interests and passions that may lead to careers — whether or not that includes a college education.”
Employer Connections puts employers in front of skilled, best-fit local talent for current openings as well as their future talent pipelines Within Discovery, students see participating employers whose opportunities — whether current or future jobs, internships or apprenticeships — align with their aptitudes, interests, career matches and certifications.
If the end game is to better prepare students for college and career, what better preparation than exposing them to local industries and employers that align with their interests and aptitudes?
Establishing a baseline
An added benefit is that Discovery fits perfectly in the curriculum AJ was already using for self-assessment. It helps his students answer questions like, what they’re good at, what they do and don’t like, and what kind of lifestyle and career they dream of — and then gives them careers that match those interests and correlate with their abilities.
When asked about whether their results are accurate, and if the time spent exploring Discovery was beneficial, an overwhelming majority of AJ’s students said they loved it and that it was a great use of their time.
Because of that feedback, AJ now starts the semester with Discovery to establish a baseline that students can refer to when exploring (and mapping) career pathways and writing resumes.
“Right away we start them with this and by the second week of class, if they’ve taken it seriously, they have an assessment sitting right in front of them saying you’re going to be good at this. That makes our job so much easier because throughout the rest of the semester, we don’t have to hear, ‘I still don’t know what I want to do.’ Before we had YouScience, that is something we’d hear all of the time.”
Even the school counselors at Fremont Ross High School rave about how YouScience streamlines the process of scheduling classes for the next school year. Students know what they want to take and are excited about their futures.
Connecting students to real-world outcomes
Whether planning on college, trade school, enlisting or a job straight out of high school, students are better prepared for the future after using the YouScience Platform. Having a solid direction about which pathway to take from an early age changes the trajectory of a student’s life.
Using YouScience Discovery empowers students — the future workforce — with that knowledge and connects them, in meaningful ways, to careers that fit their abilities and interests while giving communities a best-fit workforce that stays local and contributes to the local economy.
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