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.
(Be sure to catch the AMAZING giveaway we have going on at the bottom of this post!! It’s only good for a limited time so check it out now!!)
Getting your teen started in life planning
The hardest part of this process is getting started. Respecting your teen’s input and independence is crucial. In the end, they will be responsible for their life, but we can resource and equip them for the journey. Creating an overall 4-year plan for high school is a great way to start. Of course, expect twists and turns along the way, but having a clear path, to begin with, will give you a simple guide that can be easily modified.
When talking about your child’s future, it’s very easy to share your own career story. It’s also easy to over plan for your child without letting them give input into their hopes and goals after graduation. On the other hand, a teen’s “I don’t know what I’m doing next” is a cry for structuring in the decision process. How do you give them this balance of independence and structure?
With your kids, come up with a list of things your student loves to do or study. Don’t edit as you brainstorm that defeats the purpose of brainstorming. The sky is the limit. The power and purpose of brainstorming is not to be practical; it’s to generate ideas.
Use a graphic organizer or a mind map, if that will be helpful to you. Get a big whiteboard and add to it over several days.
What are some great sources for brainstorming?
What are your child’s favorite books, movies, and TV series? Many young kids are discovering interests based on T.V. shows. NCIS has generated an entire group of students fascinated by Forensic Science.
What does your student do in their free time? My history loving, botany loving gardener, has been thinking about paleoethnobotany since our visit to Mt. Vernon.
Youtube is an excellent source of recorded interviews of professionals explaining their careers and talking about how they got where they are at today. Check out our friend Alex Steele for inspiration on many levels.
Take steps to help your high-schooler find a post-graduation plan: are they work, vo-tech or college/ university-bound, military, marriage, or entrepreneurs?
Brainstorm and make a game of researching options
Explore job -shadowing and volunteering. Kids may discover areas of interest they didn’t even know existed. They may also find that they dislike certain things. A friend of ours was totally sold on Forensic Science as a Career until they job shadowed at a Mortuary.
Research Clubs, Activities, Camps in areas of interest to build skills and explore jobs.
Think about Test Prep. Test scores can make or break scholarship and career opportunities.
Need more great tips on life planning for your home-school high school student? Our Orienteering Course is specifically designed to help students take ownership for high school and beyond! Check out our other career planning posts.
Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, our High School Life Planning Giveaway! You can win one full year of a live, online writing club; our Surviving High School Ebook, or a FREE Academic Advising session. Don’t wait, enter this one today!
If you’ve homeschooled for any length of time, you’ve heard the question, “But, what about high school?” or “How will they ever get into college?” They don’t understand that you don’t really teach high school, but rather you become their guidance counselor. You choose or help your students, select curriculum, books to read, or even help them find co-op classes or a few online live courses where they learn subjects like Algebra, Latin, or history from a more learned teacher.
When starting my research on homeschooling high school, everyone’s advice seemed to have to do with getting the students into college. Teens take courses to prepare themselves for the college entrance exams, the ACT and the SAT, they volunteer in the community, participate in sports, and they might even earn a few college credits all to appease those college admission counselors. I started to wonder how hard it could be to “get in?” And although I’m in no hurry to rush them off into a college classroom and or onto a college campus, couldn’t they just start by taking some classes while in high school? What about college-level exams?
The first time I learned about CLEP exams, College Level Examination Program, my understanding was that they were a great way to prove your student had taken courses with academic rigor and that they had mastery of the material they had studied. Honestly, I didn’t know if my bright, but mostly average kids could pass a college-level exam. I had also heard horror stories of kids earning multiple college credits from one source or another, later to learn their student’s college of choice would never accept the credits. I was skeptical.
CLEP Exams can save time and money!
My research quickly led me to some astonishing information. While watching a wonderful webinar by Becky Muldrow of Dual Credit at Home, I learned that not only are homeschool high school students passing these exams and earning college credit, they are also earning associate degrees, and some are earning four year Bachelor degrees.
They are doing it for a small fraction of the cost of attending a brick and mortar school. There are accredited colleges that accept many college credits via college equivalency exams, dual credit exams, and more! Consider Liberty University, which accepts 75% of 120 credits needed for most bachelor’s degree as transfer credits. Three colleges, known as “The Big Three,” accept almost all credits via transfer. Charter Oak State College, a regionally accredited online college, accepts 114 transfer credits. They offer Bachelor degrees that, if carefully planned, can be obtained for less than $6,000! Our college funds are currently pretty small. However, if we can combine college and high school at the same time, I believe they can finish their undergraduate degree debt-free.
Planning is Key
When planning to do college and high school simultaneously, it’s important to plan well. You want to make sure your student meets at least your state’s homeschool high school requirements if any. You also need to know the transfer policies at the college your student plans to complete their studies with. Most of the general education or lower-level classes needed for a Bachelor degree are the same subject high school students study. Your student will study subjects at a high school level, add in some extra study and then take and pass a 90-120 minute college-level exam which helps them bank college credit and you can issue them high school credit for their time and effort while studying to learn the material.
Our CLEP Exam Journey Begins
Not one to enjoy wasting time or money and enjoying a good challenge, I plunged in with this journey last fall, my twins’ Freshman year of high school. I recommend starting with a subject your student enjoys as your first exam. For our boys, it was US History, and I had already planned to have them study this subject. They began high school history, Omnibus III from Veritas Press in the fall. They did extra studying using Quizlet’s free games, and online flashcards with Speedyprep (HSLDA offers members a discount for Speedyprep.) By February, they were ready to take the plunge and just see how the testing would go with CLEP US History I.
Our First Test!
The staff was quiet and calm when we arrived, and all eyes were on us as they noticed the ages of our kids. They asked if we knew these were college-level exams and there was no guarantee of passing. We paid the $25 proctor fee, per test; fees vary among testing centers. The boys were sent into the testing room and out of my line of sight.
I waited in the lobby for the first hour of the 90-minute exam and returned to wait for the rest of the time in the small testing office just outside the exam room. The receptionist asked where the boys went to school and how old they were. She said quietly, “Oh, I see. Well, a passing score is 50, for most colleges, and we typically see scores just under that or slightly over. Occasionally, someone studies hard and manages a score in the 60’s.”
I told her that I honestly, just wanted them to pass. These exams are pass or fail, and at most schools, will not earn a grade. Ten minutes later, our son Luke emerged from the exam room with a large smile on his face. The receptionist took his printed score off the printer and said, “Nice job, young man!” as she mouthed the words “Seventy-one!” to her co-workers. Two other staff members came out from behind their cubicles to congratulate them. They also asked about homeschooling and when we planned to return for the next test! In the meantime, our other son completed his test with a respectable 68! We were elated.
Banking College Credits
Since then, they have banked 12 college credits by passing the Civil War and Reconstruction DSST, which is another college exam worth a 400 level college history course at most schools that accept CLEP, the CLEP American Government, and CLEP US History II. They could also take CLEP American History, which we plan to take next year, which will earn 3-6 credits depending on the transfer school.
Day to day while preparing for an exam and doing high school? We are currently working on studying a few high school classes, like Algebra II and Spanish, plus one exam at a time. On an average day during this past spring, they would spend an hour doing their high school level history curriculum, thirty minutes practicing online flashcards with SpeedyPrep or Instantcert, around 45 minutes watching videos reviewing the material with Study.com, and around 15 minutes doing the review questions from the free membership with Modern States.
After completing the courses with Modern States, they offer a free voucher to pay for the $89 CLEP exam and will even reimburse the proctor fee. They offer this to the first 10,000 students to apply each year.) After getting through the Study.com videos, about three weeks per exam, they would spend a week doing practice tests from either Peterson’s or REA and reviewing any areas they were weak in and then they took the exam. The practice exams were equal to or harder than the actual exam. It is a lot of work. Some subjects will require more time for us. But their success has motivated us to press forward.
Planning for Success
Our son, Luke, has zeroed in on a Bachelor degree in Government with a concentration in Policy and Politics from Liberty University Online. They accept up to 90 credits of the 120 needed for a degree to be transfer credits. Because several CLEP exams are worth 6 credits and some language exams are worth up to 12 credits, I believe they can finish all of their general education credits within the next year. We won’t have Luke actually apply to Liberty until he has earned around 80 credits including all of his general education credits which he will earn through these examinations.
During high school, he also plans to volunteer or intern for a non-profit lobbying group which defends school choice, life, and the freedom of religion. Our son Grant is working on his general education requirements and considering all his options including aviation, biology, or cartography. They are working hard toward their goals to complete high school along with a degree at the same time or shortly after and are already eager to work in an area of their interests to make a difference. We’re enjoying the ride.
(Are you interested in CLEP courses for your high school student? Check out our CLEP Prep Course offerings at True North Homeschool Academy.)
As homeschooling parents, we are called upon to choose curriculum, teach the kids, keep track of credits and graduation requirements and guide our kids to a successful launch. We are the school board, administration, academic advisor and teacher, all rolled into one.
It can be difficult to do all of that on one’s own. I’ve heard several times on homeschooling forums and message boards who state that their parents didn’t help them navigate college or career and they came out just fine. And while I do believe that resiliency and grit are often overlooked and possibly under-expected, I caution parents against leaving their kids to figure it out on their own for two compelling reasons.
Time and Money
The average student in American is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 6 years instead of 4 with $37,000 in debt. Couple that with the fact that only about half of all students who enter college complete it and you could have a very expensive recipe for disaster.
Hacking High School for Future Success
The savvy homeschooler will view homeschooling high school as the opportunity for two things:
Time to explore new opportunities and options
Time to prepare for a successful launch
When I am putting together our “school” for each school year I am thinking about academics. I am also thinking about extra-curricular, camps, internships, sports, clubs and other possibilities. I am thinking about how my kids are developing and growing in unique areas (developing their “otherliness”), how to develop their professionalism in specific areas of interest, what kind of personality skills or traits that they need shoring up on, or natural areas of ability that can be further developed.
Why hire someone when you can DIY Homeschool Academic Advising?
So, what does this have to do with Homeschool Academic Advising? Many, if not most, homeschooling parents short change the high school years. They under-credit what they have done, don’t know where to invest time and energy based on students interests or callings because they are worried about what a transcript “should” look like. They tend to forget to think about things like camps, awards, sports, roles, responsibilities, and community service.
That’s where a seasoned Academic Advisor is helpful.
I see the credits you overlook because it’s your normal. For example, I recently worked with a high school student who basically flunked most of last year’s courses. After digging a bit deeper I discovered that he had extensive camping and fishing experience – like he provides fresh fish each year for more than one family; has hundreds of hours of Community Service (mowing and plowing his Grandmas and neighbors driveways and walks) works full time laying fiber optic cable (because he has such an amazing work ethic and is a responsible worker), and has re-built a diesel engine for the truck he bought with cash that he’d earned watching YouTube videos.
Along with identifying a processing disorder and getting him the academic help he needed, I was able to create a transcript for him that reflected the hard working, high PIQ (Performance IQ), kind and generous young man he was. Additionally, we were able to lay out a doable plan that will get him the professional certification he needs in life to earn the kind of money he should, given his abilities, despite academic struggles.
Similarly, I worked with a family earlier this year who has hopes of graduating from college while still in their teens. This student has the intellectual capability of doing just that but he is also very interested in going into an art field, doing creative, free-lance work. His Personalized Learning Plan included CLEP and Dual Enrollment classes. These classes were coupled along with developing an online presence, going to professional conferences, developing his artistic abilities, and going to graduate school in a location that would allow him to create the best connections possible.
Story Telling and the Art of High School & Career Counseling
Here’s the deal. At heart, I’m a writer, a teller of stories. I love listening to people, hearing their hearts and learning about the story they’ve lived so far and the story that God is writing. From there it’s easy to create an Action Plan that makes sense, to resource the students and parents with camps, classes, competitions, books and ideas to make the story they are living be cost and time effective and lead to success.
Whether you have a fast burner or struggling learner- We Can Help!
Whether your student is on a fast track or struggling to just keep going, we can help. We have worked with homeschooled students from around the world for many years- from profoundly gifted to disabled. Along the way, we’ve mentored everyone from Olympic hopefuls to kids who use P.T. for PE credit. We have helped kids go on to Internships, the military, community college, State and Christian colleges as well as Ivy League schools. Every student has a story and we would be honored to work alongside you to help write the next amazing chapter!
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