What Influences Student Career Choices?

We may think that a student’s college and career choices are largely decided based on the high school experience. But recent data from the Student Research Foundation tells a more complicated story.

As this infographic depicts, high school experiences rank sixth, from a longer list of items, when it comes to influences of career path decisions for today’s high school students.

What Influences Student Career Choices - Student Research Foundation

As we help our students and our own kids make important decisions regarding their futures, it is important we consider all of the influences impacting choices.  High school experiences are in the mix, along with other influences.

Jobs & College Degrees

Yes, some form of postsecondary education is important in today’s world and today’s economy. But as many continue to question the value of earning a four-year degree, it is equally important to understand the jobs that may be available to today’s – and tomorrow’s – high school graduates.

Over at Marketwatch, reporter Jillian Berman recently explored the 30 million or so jobs that are available without a four-year college degree. Berman found these jobs pay on average of $55,000 a year. And some of them may be surprising. Researchers are finding growth in areas such as:

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Spotlighting Students’ Readiness for #STEM

With more and more high schools emphasizing the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education for all of their students, an important issue has been raised. How does one effectively recognize those students who are excelling in STEM?

In Colorado and elsewhere, that question has been answered with an effort to add a STEM designation to high school diplomas. There, teachers came together to help better recognize those students who were meeting state benchmarks when it came to workforce readiness in technology and computing. So STEM seals were born.

But the idea comes with some controversy. As Stephen Sawchuk of Education Week recently reported:

STEM endorsements are still so new overall that there are few insights on how they will play out on the ground for students—and whether the new credentials will come to signify anything of value to employers or colleges.

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Is the College Degree Outdated?

Many in the education community speak of the importance of a postsecondary education for all of today’s learners, and rightfully so. As young people make the transition from school to career, there are many important lessons, skills, and experiences that postsecondary education provides.

It is important, though, to recognize that postsecondary education is not synonymous with a liberal arts college degree. As learners explore their interests and aptitudes and begin understanding the career pathways before them, a bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts discipline isn’t necessarily the key to future success.

The Hechinger Report recently explored this topic, as reporter Laura Pappano asked the question, “Is the college degree outdated?” In her piece, Pappano explored how many of today’s young people are recognizing that microcredentials, career certificates, and other forms of measureable educational attainment can make all the difference when moving from the student body to the workforce.

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