To help your child properly plan for college, you need to help her think about what she hopes to get out of college. What will she major in? What kind of job will she get after college?
This is the big “What do you want to do when you grow up?” question. It’s a hard one. The answer starts with some serious self-assessment.
Help your child work through these questions:
1. What do you like to do?
Career counselors love to ask, “What would you do for a living if money were no object?” Of course, money is always an object. But the thought is valid. If you enjoy your career and would do it regardless of the pay, you’re more likely to be successful.
2. What do you do well?
Every day, people decide to pursue a career for the wrong reasons. Maybe they’re attracted to the pay or the prestige. Maybe they’re just looking for an easy way to earn a living. While there’s nothing wrong with any of those aspirations, it’s important to recognize your unique skills and abilities first. Once you’ve done that, you can start lining up your skills with possible careers.
3. What's your personality?
Personality is a key factor in any career decision. Are you outgoing? Flexible? Detail oriented? Creative? Rational? Impatient? Let's face it. Working in a career that doesn't fit your personality is a surefire recipe for boredom or poor job performance. Take a good long look at the reflection in the mirror and decide what careers match up.
4. What are your values?
Nothing brings a person's value system into sharp focus quite like the day-to-day reality of their job. At some point in your future career, it's likely you will have to ask yourself "Am I doing the right thing?" That’s why it's smart to have a good understanding on your personal values now – before you've chosen your career path. That way, when you do get that job, you'll be more likely to act in a way that's consistent with your personal value system. And that is, after all, the definition of integrity.
The public schools in Mississippi use a program called Choices to help students plan for careers and life after high school. Encourage your child to take advantage of this excellent tool.
There are a number of interest and personality assessment tools, as well as career assessments, available on the Internet.
Things to keep in mind regarding assessment tools:
- Not all tests are right for all people. For example, some tests force you to choose between two options, both of which sound equally bad. So the format of the test is important.
- Tests are not universally good (or bad). What provides good insight for you may not help your child.
- Don’t assume the tests are accurate. If the test says your child should be a veterinarian, but she is allergic to all things animal, then disregard the test results.
- Take more than one test. The variety will give you and your child a better overall picture.
- Go with your gut. If you and your child feel the test is dead-wrong or hit-the-nail-on-the-head right, then you are probably right.
- Every person is unique. No test can figure you out completely. Use tests as a tool, but also talk to a career counselor.
- Spend some time thinking about the results. The test can’t do all the work. Your child – with your help – has to engage in the process of figuring out who he is and what he wants to do.
- Test results should be treated as possibilities worth exploring.
Here are some self-assessment and career tools to check out:
ASVAB Career Exploration Program (for high school and college students)
Ansir's 3 Sides of You Self Perception Profiling System (FREE)
Career Interests Game (FREE)
Career Quiz (FREE)
Keirsey Temperament Sorter (FREE)
CoachCompass® Assessment (FREE)
Future Proof Your Career (FREE)
Keirsey Temperament Sorter (FREE)
Personality Pathways – (FREE)
O*Net Online (FREE)
Campbell Interest and Skill Survey ($18.00)
Career Interest Inventory from testingroom.com ($14.95)
Career Key ($9.95)
Career Maze ($19.95)
Career Values Scale from testingroom.com ($8.95)
John Holland’s Self-Directed-Search (SDS) ($9.95)
Jackson Vocational Interest Survey (JVIS) ($19.95)
JASPER (Job Asset and Strengths Profiler) ($59.95)
Personality Index from testingroom.com ($14.95)