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Part II
Exploring Career and Educational Options
Once you've spent some time understanding what your strengths, interests, and values are, it's a good idea to investigate potential career fields and learn what various occupations actually entail. You will also want to investigate educational options as part of the process.
Your Career
The three main ways to gather information about career options are reading, talking, and doing.
On a very basic level you will want to have information available to you about the job description, educational requirements, skills needed, working conditions, current employment statistics (# of people currently employed in the field), salary information, job outlook (future growth or decline in job opportunities)
Talking "Informational interviewing"
Is probably the best way to gather information about the world of work. It enables you to gather information about a field, industry, or particular type of work that you won't find in a book. Getting that personal and realistic view can help you make a sound decision. It's a good idea to talk with as many people as you can to get the most complete picture. Ask friends, relatives, teachers, career counselors, and professional association members for suggestions of who to contact.
Job shadowing, cooperative education, internships and volunteering are just a few of the ways to investigate a career that interests you. Job Shadowing is our favorite. It's an excellent way to test your career goals by seeing "a day in the life" of a particular field or position. Spend a few hours, a day, or several days on-site literally "shadowing" a specific professional or a group of professionals. Not only can you see what the work is like from day to day, but you have a chance to talk with professionals who can give you information about related positions, about a particular organization, or about the job market in a specific industry or geographic region. You can also use it to get advice on strategies for pursuing a particular job or career path and to make connections - "get referrals" for people to contact about potential jobs, internships, or more job shadowing!
Additional Considerations
Your immediate goal should be to make the best career choices possible at this point in your life. Keep in mind, it's only natural that your dreams and aspirations may change over time. Changing interests and personal circumstances, and the rapidly evolving nature of the world of work, will require you to make numerous career-related decisions throughout your lifetime.
Your Education
Did you know that close to 70% of the graduating high school class of 2005 will be enrolled in a college - either 2 or 4 year, this coming fall. And did you know that college graduates, age 25 and over, earn nearly twice as much as workers who stopped with a high school diploma. Need more be said??? There are many things to consider while you are making the decision about which school to attend. Here are a few things to consider.
Types of Schools:
Here is a list of the types of schools you might hear about as you plan for your post-high-school education:
Public vs Private: Public institutions are state supported. Private for-profit institutions are businesses. Private not-for-profit institutions are independent — for instance, the school might have been established by a church or through local community donations rather than by the state government.
4-Year College: A four-year college grants bachelor’s degrees (Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Science). Some colleges also award master’s degrees.
University: A university grants bachelor's and master's degrees, and sometimes includes a professional school such as a law school or medical school. Universities tend to be larger than colleges, focus more on scholarly or scientific research, and might have larger class sizes.
Community college: A public two-year college granting associate’s degrees and sometimes certificates in particular technical (career-related) subjects. Some students start their postsecondary education at a community college and then transfer to a four-year school, either because a community college tends to be cheaper than a four-year college, or because admissions standards at community colleges are often less stringent than at four-year schools.
Junior college: Similar to a community college, except that a junior college is usually a private school.
Technical school, Vocational School, Trade School, Career School: These terms are often used interchangeably. May be public or private, two-year or less-than-two-year. Career schools offer courses that are designed to prepare students for specific careers, from welding to cosmetology to medical imaging, etc. The difference between technical schools and trade schools is that technical schools teach the science behind the occupation, while trade schools focus on hands-on application of skills needed to do the job.
The Cost of Going To School:
Most people believe that school is much more expensive than it really is. Although some are expensive, there is most likely a school near you that is within financial reach. A few good resources to check out:
The U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs are the largest source of student aid in America. They provide about 70% of all student financial aid.
The College Is Possible web site has a glossary of financial aid terms, information on major programs, and links to additional resources.
GovBenefits is a free, easy-to-use site that helps you to find ways to pay for your education.
CareerOneStop's Financial Aid Center has information on financial assistance for college students.
FAFSA - The U.S. Department of Education free Application for Federal Student Aid Web Site
Choosing A School or Training Program:
Selecting a school to attend is like buying or leasing your first car. It's a very personal thing - what's important to you may not be important to your neighbor or best friend. Here are some of the things you will have to consider:
Location: Factors to consider are how far from home, what part of the country (or abroad), and type of setting (small rural town to a major metropolitan area such as New York or Los Angeles).
Size: Schools range in size from less than 500 to over 40,000
Cost: Know what finances you have in place and know where to get financial aid, if needed.
Type of School: Public vs. Private - Trade, 2 Year, or 4 Year.
Majors: Choose a school that can prepare you a career or cluster of careers that interest you.
Other Factors: Athletics, Extra-Curricular Activities, etc.
Part I - Self Assessment
Part III - Creating A Plan
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