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Career Coaching for Students Review by Tony Silva

Success Discoveries
PO Box 922
Prosper, TX 75078

A common problem college students face is deciding a major course of study. One of our sons started as an economics major and is now on track to graduate with a degree in English. Often, the result of this drift in study focus is a student who either graduates unprepared for a career he will love or one who is well educated in a field for which there are few employment opportunities.

The student's potential is greatly increased if he goes beyond high school with a clearer picture of the kind of career that will be a good fit for him and for which there are employment opportunities beyond college. One way to get there from here is a program called Career Coaching for Students. The program has, until recently, been presented in a 12-hour seminar format in three four-hour increments. But now Career Coaching for Students is available in a home study edition that can be completed in six to eight weeks or as a full semester course. The cost is $349.00.

Once enrolled, the student gets a binder containing an outline of the program's major steps and log-in information for his or   her account in the Student Resource Central portion of the Career Coaching for Students website. The process begins with completion of two assessments. One measures the student's personal interests, attitudes, and values; the other measures the student's talents. The assessments are designed for use in corporate human resource programs and may contain questions that are awkward or unclear for a high school student. In this step, parents are advised to assist the student with explanations of what the questions mean but not with suggestions for an answer.

As our son worked through the assessments, he found them frustrating at times. For example, he would have to choose one pair of words over another pair of words when the real preference was one word from each pair. However, even with the corporate orientation and the frustration of "false choices," the results as the facilitator explained them were very close to the personality and interests of our homeschooled student.

Before moving on to the actual curriculum, a "debriefing" is offered to help the student understand the assessment results and, more importantly, to validate these results. Even the best tests can yield results that are not meaningful when the facilitator is unfamiliar with the person who took them. For this reason, even though the facilitator can provide the information to the parent only, it is best for the student to be actively involved in the debriefing.

Armed with an understanding of the interests and values that drive him and the talents that can contribute to a future career, the student can explore a career focus. This is the part of the process where Career Coaching for Students is really valuable. After reviewing the personal talent reports that the assessments generate, the student creates a "mission statement" that serves as a platform for identifying career possibilities that match his values, interests, and talents. A software application is available in the Student Resource Center to help him develop his "mission statement."

The number of career possibilities is narrowed as the student learns more about his top career choices. Then he can move on to researching those careers, building interview skills, and analyzing educational requirements for the career as well as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (called "SWOT analysis"). The program is rounded out with an action plan and suggested actions for high school juniors. Ample emphasis is given in this course to strategic planning, networking, and education planning.

The entire course is focused on helping the student gather and use vital information about himself, his career options, college choices, and planning for education and employment beyond the high school years. In addition to the guidebook provided with the assessments, the student has access to an online reservoir of career exploration and planning knowledge called Student Resource Central. The sheer volume of information on the site can be overwhelming. This is a good place to mention that the facilitator is available to help home study students learn how to mine this vast resource.

Career Coaching for Students is clearly designed to be presented in a seminar format; the content of the guidebook is a great resource for students to continue exploring their career focus. Adapted to homeschools, this can be an excellent platform for parents to guide their students beyond the high school years.

Product review by Tony Silva, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2011