One of the services that we provide through True North Academic Advising is career and life coaching. Kids often have a big idea of what they want in life but don’t have the experience get them there in an expedient and cost-effective way.
Why does Career Exploration matter to high school students?
Career Exploration, as Cheri explains:
Increases students awareness of career options
Helps students see how they fit into the working world
Encourages students to plan high school courses based on their future goals
Improves academic performances
Saves time and money by pursuing a defined goal
Introduces students to employment skills valued by all employers
The Career Exploration and preparation course guide consists of 2 parts.
Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 1:
This section is designed to allow the student to get to know themselves better and gain a clearer understanding of their vocational interests. This section also helps the student confirm their interests through various activities.
Part 1 Overview – Career Exploration: Choosing a Best Fit
Keys to your future
Your Vocational Profiles
Part 1 is designed to be used in homeschools or co-op settings. Cheri includes many web-links and resources right at the beginning of the guide to get you started on the road to understanding your student. Some examples include Learning Styles, Motivation Triggers, Grit Scales, Business Essentials, to name a few.
Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 2:
In part 2, students are guided through a capstone project in their career area of interest. This section will allow students to define and hone skills relevant to the career areas that they have selected in Section 1.
The Guide consists of reading, assignments, and projects. Students should plan on 3-4 hours per week to complete the lessons, reading, and longer-term projects. Students should prepare to partner with their parents or a cohort, such as our Orienteering course will provide, to make the most of this course.
So what do I love about this program?
I love how this program starts off right by encouraging students to seek and find a team of mature mentors that they can learn and grow from. It is an excellent exercise in seeking out Godly leaders who can speak into their lives.
Additionally, there is a fantastic Bible Study right out of the shoot that sets up the Biblical basis for work. Conscientious, hard workers are in high demand these days. Cheri guides the kids through a Bible study on this and lays such an excellent foundation for the joy, responsibility, and God-given inspiration for work. Directly following, there is a study on family and cultural expectations. This facet is an oft-overlooked section of most career exploration programs. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I love the fact that students look at the careers and vocations that are part of their family. We are often more influenced by family members and legacies than we realize.
A Cost of Living Project is also included. An excellent project that every high schooler should complete before their graduation from high school!
All of this before the student begins a Vocational Profile, which includes Personality Inventories, Occupational Profiles and Evaluation, Credentialing Evaluation, and Job Shadowing. This Vocational Profile is a thorough and detailed overview of career exploration for each student based on their personality and interests.
Part II will focus on students building their skills and showcasing them in a way that will take them into the beginning stages of developing their professionalism.
The Capstone project includes critical thinking, public speaking, research skills, self-sufficiency, team-work, planning, media literacy, planning, and goal setting. Students will learn and understand the difference between hard and soft skills. As a podcast host, focusing on Soft Skills, this makes me happy. The Capstone project asks the student to create a quality program or experience for themselves that will develop their professional self and ability. SMART Goals, resumes, and interviewing skills are covered.
Career Exploration and Prep is an excellent course for young adults of all ages. The target ages are 16 and up, but the resource is acceptable for motivated younger students as well. I would recommend this Guide for families and co-op situation.
(The following is a guest post from Lolita Allgyer, Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis.)
8 Software Tools Teens Can Master Today
Getting a job looks pretty complicated when you’re young. That world is far away, right? That comes after you graduate college and are ready to take on the world, correct?
Not really. In fact, today it’s never been easier to gain expertise in the areas that all businesses are eager to build out. Innovation has made it possible for young people like you to break into some of the coolest careers available! One of the best ways to set yourself apart today is to learn software tools that are common to many businesses. Here are just a few examples:
If your résumé says “detail-oriented” this should be on your list. Even if it’s not, mastering Google’s tools will give you experience quickly in the art of organizing and systematizing data. Get your Google Suite certification here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
Write a blog series showing the little tricks most people don’t know.
Make a tutorial series outlining the basic concepts of each part of Google Suite.
Create a short webinar geared toward people who quickly want to navigate Google’s products.
Write a Medium article detailing how you mastered Google Suite.
This is a must if you want any kind of analytical role. Without spreadsheets you’ll be left handicapped! Learn Excel and learn it well. Even for those who hate numbers and want nothing to do with data, mastering excel will give you an edge in the digital world, where many people aren’t organized. You can get many different levels of Excel certification here!
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
Make a Youtube tutorial series (like this one created by a Praxis participant)
Create spreadsheets with data from your favorite sports team, and write an analysis of your findings
Find a small business you love and help them build a simple CRM
Start tracking some of your routines and write an article breaking down what works and what doesn’t
Salesforce is today’s top CRM platform. If you’re considering a marketing or sales role, learning how to navigate a CRM is essential. Even if the companies you end up working for don’t use Salesforce, your basic knowledge of a CRM will be valuable for understanding the way sales and marketing funnels work! You can get your Salesforce Administrator Certification here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
Build a basic CRM for a small business near you.
Create minute-long videos about your tips for learning Salesforce and post them to your social media.
Create a short podcast series where you teach Salesforce for those who have no clue where to start.
Coach someone through the process of learning the program!
Email is still the biggest way businesses communicate with each other. It’s crucial to learn an email management software, especially for anyone who is interested in marketing or customer service! Mailchimp is one of the more common platforms. (Hubspot would be another example of a tool that fits in this category.) Chimp Essentials is a great course for learning Mailchimp! Check it out here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
Build out an email funnel for a company you’d like to get hired at. Make sure your copy is strong and that you have the HTML files on standby so they can easily access them!
Create a simple mailing list of your own. Play around with signup forms, open and clickthrough rates, and email copy.
Teach a couple of small businesses near you how to use the platform for their companies!
Run a webinar where you teach the tricks you learned while studying Mailchimp
It’s an obvious for someone who wants to go into marketing. But I think it’s equally as valuable for salespeople and customer service associates to know what goes into running an ad! Facebook’s certifications can be found here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
Build a small Shopify store and run ads to get people to buy your products
Find an entrepreneur who has a small marketing budget and offer to run ads for them.
Write a daily blog post about what you’ve learned in Facebook Ads world.
Put together a Tweet thread that summarizes what you’ve learned.
Want to start your own business? Interested in sales or marketing? Then master Google Analytics! You’ll be empowered if you know what the data means and how to act on it! Access Google’s Analytics Academy here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
Plug in your personal website and write an analysis of what you learned and what you can do to optimize the site.
Make screenshare videos of Google Analytics functions that are helpful to you and upload them to Youtube.
Write a simple E-book on Google Analytics and publish it.
Find marketing groups on Facebook and write up some blog posts on the topic to share with them.
Video conferencing is a big deal in today’s world. If you’re in customer service, sales, or any other role where you talk to people often, it’s good to have mastered the ins and outs of a service like Zoom. Mastering this tool also means being able to walk other people through minor tech issues with the program, so make sure you can communicate what you’ve learned effectively! Zoom has some pretty cool live training for each of its different functions. Check it out here!
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
Create a tutorial teaching newbies how to run a webinar via Zoom.
Write a series of blog posts about creative ways to use the platform for business.
Record a live training session where you’re walking someone through the basics of Zoom.
Go on Quora and search for people’s questions about Zoom. Now that you’re an expert, you can answer them!
Want to manage a team someday? Thinking of starting a business? Then it’s time you learn to master your workflow! Trello is one of the best tools to plug in no matter what your job description is. There’s a pretty cool Trello course here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
Invite your friends to Trello and plan a couple of events on the platform.
Try managing a project you’re completing solely through Trello. Write a Medium article about what you learned.
Create an Instagram or Facebook story showing people how you use Trello!
Create a time management course and showcase how Trello can help time management.
Final ideas on software tools teens can master –
You can host all these tools and your other skills on a free Crash profile. Using the Crash platform, you’ll be able to show your work in a beautiful visual format and create personalized pitches to companies you want to work for. Take the fun Crash career quiz to get started!
Remember to build skills in as many areas as possible. If you’re in sales, that’s great. Lots of people are in sales. But if killing a sales role AND you have a bunch of marketing tools in your back pocket, you’ll be able to leverage many more opportunities! In today’s world of opportunities, it pays to have a diverse portfolio!
Documentation is the most important part! You can master all these tools, but if no one else knows what you’ve accomplished, it’s not going to be nearly as valuable to you in the long run. Be open about your learning process, and create value for others with the skills you’re building!
Ready to take on the world of software? Let’s do it!
Loved this? Consider applying to Praxis. We’ll help you find and build your skills, then put them to work in a startup apprenticeship. You’ll get much more coaching like this, access to a community of entrepreneurial young people like you, and a portfolio of work that will speak for you wherever you go.
Lolita Allgyer is a homeschool grad who loves education. She is a Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis, where she works with other young people to help them build careers they love through apprenticeships. She originally published this piece here on the Praxis blog. In her spare time she is learning as much about the world as possible. Her latest interests are French and the ukulele. Interested in an apprenticeship or just want to chat about this idea? She would love to hear your thoughts! Her email is lolita(at)discoverpraxis(dot)com.
Testing often gets a bad rap in the homeschooling world. Could it be that we are trying to create space for our kids to be free and expressive, without the constraints of externally imposed values?
I want to take a moment to advocate for testing our homeschoolers- especially as they begin looking at the big, “what are you going to do with your life” type of questions.
Testing could and may determine a lot of things for your kids, such as what career they are eligible for if they go into the military, what college or university they get accepted to, how much debt they take out for vocational training post high school, what graduate schools and internships they are eligible for and more. Furthermore, tests can indicate disabilities and allow parents and advisors to seek out services and that can enable students to succeed where they might otherwise fail, or get certifications and training that wouldn’t be possible for them without accommodations.
While test taking might seem like a way to pigeon hole our kids, in many ways, their future will be impacted by their ability to take tests well. Some kids are naturally good test takers; some are not.
A general high school test schedule might look like the following:
High School Testing – 10th Grade
PSAT-The PSAT is a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Each year the top 1% of 11th grade PSAT takers become semi-finalists. This is also considered a PSAT prep test.
ACT/SAT Test Prep – These tests attempt to measure college readiness and predict future success. Familiarity with each test and understanding test strategies (should you guess at questions to answer them or is it better to leave questions you aren’t sure about unanswered, etc.) will improve test scores, and many test-prep guides suggest doing at least three practice tests to ensure your best score.
The ACT – The ACT measures what a student already knows and will have learned throughout high school. Research indicates that 50% of those who re-take the ACT a second time improve their scores
The SAT – The SAT is a predictor of what the student is capable of. It deals with material that the student may not have learned in high school. There is no evidence that re-taking the SAT improves scores.
Students can take the ACT and SAT multiple times as long as they pay the exam fee.
High School Testing – 10th-12th Grade
AP Exams (Advanced Placement)- Colleges and Universities may or may not accept AP tests for credits/ Classes
CLEP exams (College Level Exam Placement) Students can begin taking CLEP exams as early as they want. CLEP tests scores can be “banked” for many years, but not all colleges and universities may accept CLEP tests for Credits/ classes.
High School Testing – 11th & 12th Grade
ACT– 11th & 12th
PSAT/ NMSQT, or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)– This test unlocks millions of dollars in scholarship money for qualifying students. Additionally, it can be a good indicator of how well students will perform on the SAT.
What about testing for military enlistment?
ASVAB Test – This test is given before joining the military (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). This one is a skills discovery test.
What about testing for Community College?
What if your student has plans to go to the local Community College instead of college or military? Will they be required to take the ACT/ SAT? Probably not, unless they want to Dual Enroll as a high schooler, in which case, they may need to take a standardized test. Otherwise, a high school transcript or a GED should suffice.
Having a general idea of what your student wants to do after high school can help you determine what tests to take and what test schedule makes the most sense for you.
The SAT and ACT preparation process is challenging, regardless of a student’s life or educational background. An independent education provides students with an incredible opportunity to learn in a way that fits into their lives and learning styles. Homeschooled students may have some advantages in the SAT and ACT prep process over their traditionally educated peers. For example, homeschooled students may have more experience directing long-term projects and self-motivating.
However, there may be some aspects of the SAT and ACT that homeschooled students initially experience as greater challenges than their peers who have spent more time in school settings. By paying attention to their individual strengths and limitations going into the prep process, students can achieve optimal results on their college admissions test.
Here are a few aspects of the SAT and ACT prep process that are important for all test takers, but which may be especially important to highlight for students who have been homeschooled in the years leading up to the SAT and ACT.
The SAT and ACT are administered over 3-4 hours, depending on whether students take the Essay Test, which many colleges require of applicants. The longest section on the SAT lasts 65 minutes; the longest section on the ACT lasts one hour. If your independent program includes frequent opportunities for the student to stand up, stretch, or dialogue (generally good practices for learning and wellbeing), then you may want to begin incorporating longer periods in which students must work independently and without a break. Building endurance for the test can happen both through taking SAT and ACT practice tests and through completing other coursework. Either way, it is important for students to be able to direct their attention for long periods of time in order to perform well throughout the SAT and ACT.
Test Prep Action Step: Work independently and without interruption for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break to stretch or move around. Build up to one hour of focused productivity.
Working around Other People
Students without special testing accommodations will take the SAT or ACT at a local test center, surrounded by other test takers. If your homeschool program consists mostly of the student working alone in a room (supervised or unsupervised) or in small groups, then the student may want to gain experience focusing in less isolated or familiar settings. The public library is a great place to take SAT and ACT practice tests. The library is mostly quiet, but still has more activity than an empty room.
Test Prep Action Step: Move your SAT/ACT practice test—or your homeschool or homework session—to a local library or other public space.
The SAT and ACT are, of course, timed tests. The element of time shouldn’t be thought of as an obstacle to top performance, but rather an aspect of this particular “game.” The challenge of the game is answering as many questions correctly as one can within the time limits.
There are three elements of this challenge: first, a willingness to adapt one’s approach to tasks such as reading passages so that time isn’t wasted rereading portions of the passage or reading for details that won’t later be covered in the test questions; second, developing a strong understanding of the concepts being tested; third, discovering an overall pacing strategy that balances the quality of a student’s answers (his or her accuracy) with the quantity of questions answered—disproportionately favoring one over the other will have a negative impact on a student’s scores.
Test Prep Action Step: Rather than simply taking practice test after practice test, do an initial review of the concepts tested on the SAT or ACT and the format of the test for which you are preparing. After this review, apply your knowledge within the test through taking practice tests. See where you get stuck, and review those concepts in greater depth. At first, you may not finish a given section, but as you build comfort with unfamiliar topics and the test format, you’ll naturally begin to work more quickly. Within the Reading section of either test and the ACT’s Science section, which depend less on preexisting knowledge, you may not need to do an initial review, but you can spend time considering what approach to reading the passage will enable you to work most efficiently. You may also do timed drills, in which you break the section into smaller parts to get a better sense of your pacing and experiment with different approaches.
Given that the tests are an important part of the college and scholarship application processes, they often bring up nerves for students. This stress is compounded for students who will take the test in unfamiliar settings. By exploring and adopting habits that help manage stress and nerves, students will be better able to apply what they know in the test room.
Test Prep Action Step: Try taking a few full, conscious breaths breathing in for four counts, holding for two counts, and exhaling for four counts. Do you feel any different after than you felt before? A conscious breath is a habit that can be easily incorporated into test taking. Take a conscious breath in between test sections and halfway through each section or if you begin to feel overwhelmed by a test question.
If you feel overwhelmed within the test prep process, consider partnering with a tutor or coach (like me) who is an expert in navigating the test prep process. There’s a lot of information out there about the SAT and ACT, and the person with whom you work will help you determine the strategies that will work best for you. You may also use my book, Acing It! A Mindful Guide to Maximum Results on Your College Admissions Test, as a more complete resource for learning how to effectively navigate every step of the SAT and ACT process.
As a STOA alumni and coach, I have been through multiple classes and curriculum on public speaking and speech. Although some of these courses are great to teach the basics from, there’s still something missing.
I want you to imagine a high school boy who enjoys the sport of basketball. This boy shoots hoops in his driveway every day and watches every game of his favorite team. Maybe he’s even hired a personal trainer to help him refine his skills. After he graduates the boy goes to try out for a college he wants to attend, paid for by a basketball scholarship, but there’s one problem, he’s never actually competed in a game with a team. Obviously, he is not going to be very successful because as much as he knows about the sport, he has no real experience.
Similarly, many students that study speech and public speaking have not had a platform to prove their skill set and receive needed critiques from judges. By competing against other students in their age group, students can test their strengths and weaknesses.
Why Choose Competitive Speech for Homeschoolers?
Competitive Speech may not seem like it’s necessary at all. Can’t a student give a speech to their parents, or local co-op, and improve based on those critiques? They can but only to a limited extent. Judges push students beyond their comfort zone in a way that parents and friends won’t.
How well will the class push the students outside of their comfort zone?
Until the student overcomes their fear of public speaking, there will always be an obstacle in their future. Ultimately competitive speech tournaments are the best at creating the real-world atmosphere that students will face in college and the workplace. This forces the students to have to get out of their comfort zone. Each student is different and some may love public speaking from the start. Even these students will benefit greatly from STOA Coaching and competition.
So, what is STOA?
From the STOA website, STOA is “Stoa is a national Junior High and High School Speech and Debate League serving the needs of privately educated Christian Homeschooling families.”
STOA offers 11 speech events for the 2018-2019 season which runs from August to May. The events are broken down into four categories:
How can my homeschool student become prepared to compete in a STOA event?
True North Homeschool Academy offers STOA prep specifically for homeschool students in our live (online) speech course. This course provides instruction and experience in preparation and delivery of speeches within a public setting. Emphasis is placed on research, preparation, delivery, and evaluation of informative and persuasive speaking. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to prepare and deliver well-organized speeches. They will have also developed the interpersonal skills necessary to be effective communicators in an academic setting.
The True North Academy Speech club meetings will run the entire 2nd semester. The students will spend the first and second month learning the basics of speech writing and selecting which speech events they like the most. They can select up to 5 events to compete in for a NITOC modeled (aka qualifying) tournament.
How do the STOA Tournaments Work?
Tournaments are held in most states by local clubs, but each competition is a little different. Tournaments can have either speech or debate, both, or a combination of either. Tournaments will usually have a total of 6 preliminary rounds for speech events, and those rounds will be split into A and B patterns so that the events are split between the 2 patterns. This split means each student will compete three times in the preliminary rounds.
These rounds are usually 2 hours long and preferably will have 3 judges per a room to ensure maximum feedback for the student. After the preliminary rounds, most tournaments will have out rounds(e.g. Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, and finals) depending on the schedule.
For students to qualify for NITOC (Nationals) they must receive 2 “green check marks” from qualifying tournaments during the season. In order to get a check-mark in that event, the student must place in the top 40% of that event.
This season NITOC will be in Dallas Texas from May 20-25 at Dallas Baptist University.
Are you interested in learning more or joining a True North Speech Club? Find more information on our website or feel free to contact us with any questions.
For the past four years, I’ve worked as we’ve homeschooled and I have also had high schoolers who have been going through fairly rigorous academic programs. Throw in a few extra-curriculars, like music and karate and Latin National Exam, and a play mid-year, possibly TeenPact, and you have a lot going on.
We’ve managed all of this by using planners for everyone.
Because all of us are so different, we all have a different planner. For example, I like Bullet Journals- it allows me to keep a detailed calendar, take copious notes, brainstorm, brain-flow, and Venn diagram without leaving a zillion papers around the house. My son likes a very structured planner, with room for notes; he color coordinates his day and refers to it all day long. My daughter has a very girly planner where she keeps notes, doodles, writes comedy sketches. My husband is a Franklin Covey man from way back.
First, find a planner that works for each individual.
If it’s too structured, doesn’t leave enough room for doodles, notes or creative thinking or not structured enough when you need it, it’s a recipe for not getting used. Study your kids’ personalities and get them a planner that fits what they need.
Then, teach them to use it!
I sit down with my kids weekly throughout high school and talk them through planning their week. We put in daily details, overall big picture planning, on-going projects, monthly re-occurring things, church, music, school, sports and volunteer activities. They often forget to plan on driving time when they might need to get to church early to help with tech. These things take time and are all part of teaching young adults how to manage and balance everything.
We try to schedule a weekly morning basket, and some years we’ve had better success at this than others. This year has thrown us for a loop because I am either teaching first thing in the morning or my daughter is online in class first thing. So, our morning basket is going to be an after-lunch basket. The point is that we touch base for an intentional time throughout each day.
In the past, our week has revolved around our academic class day, making things somewhat easier in that projects, papers and presentations were all due on that one particular day. This year, we are no longer involved in that program and my daughter is taking several online academic classes, throughout the week. This has provided some stress for her as due dates are on-going (more like how public school is or college will be). That has provided a great learning opportunity as well, as we’ve had to discuss how to manage the various class and due dates.
We regularly have weekly planning meetings, as we have several drivers and multiple cars, live out of town and often have engagements in the evening.
Because scheduling is one of those skills that lead to time and self-management skills that I want my kids to have before they leave home. So tell me, do your kids have planners of their own? What are your top tips for teaching planning skills?
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