By Dave Ellefson, June guest blogger
Many high school graduates have been sharing handshakes and hugs with family, friends and faculty as they celebrated their recent graduation. Two questions they most likely were asked were: “Where are you planning to go to college?” and “What will your major be?”
From year-to-year a theme may arise where many students are going to a common college or to a group of colleges in a close area. This also applies to certain majors being popular. As a high school guidance counselor, I believe that the purposefulness of these decisions is a key indicator to the success the student will have. All students need to be taught how to make a decision.
I was just talking to a college student who decided to change schools after his sophomore year. Once he started at his new college, he found out he would need to attend an extra year of schooling to complete his major. Wouldn’t that have been an important question to ask before he left one school for another?
Great decisions require students to think about all the important questions that they must answer first. Are students picking a college because a friend is going there? Are they picking a major just because it will lead to a job that may pay a lot of money? How often are high school and college students given a chance to explore their career interests and aptitudes for different careers?
Students also need to think about how they will deal with adversity if it arises. They must have a growth mindset where they understand that dedication and hard work will be needed to achieve their goals. Students need to be taught how to think this way.
What about personal decisions that can get in the way of college success? Our society tends to project an image of what it means to have fun and students may not prepared for college or success when it’s not fun or easy.
When students ask the right questions about their future, have a positive mindset, and set well-thought-out goals — their chances of being successful are greatly increased. Without these ingredients it is easy to lose your way.
High schools must provide more than just the 3 Rs. High schools need to provide the following opportunities for post-high school success:
- opportunities for students to reflect on their future,
- opportunities to explore career options,
- opportunities to access their academic strengths and weakness,
- opportunities to improve on the skills they lack.
Students need to learn and practice persistence. Finally, students must learn to be goal oriented and taught how to create a four- year plan that will help them to explore career options and prepare for post-high school plans.
What ways have you found that help young people to navigate through life’s decisions?