Does your student cringe every time they hear the question, “What do you
want to do when you grow up?” Today on Homeschool Heartbeat, host Mike
Smith and high school consultant Becky Cooke discuss how you can help your teen
answer that question with confidence.
Mike Smith: Today Becky Cooke joins us on the program. Welcome,
Becky Cooke: Well, hi, Mike. I’m glad to be here
When and where to begin [0:24]
Mike: Well, Becky, I think that almost all homeschooling parents
wonder when their high school students should start thinking about career plans. How
early should students begin thinking ahead, or is it really important to start that
Becky: Well, Mike, 9th grade is not too soon to talk to teens
about what they want to do after high school. Helping teens to answer this question
will provide parents with an idea of the type of high school track to implement. They
can choose the types of courses that will be most beneficial to prepare that teen for
the next step after high school graduation. Since most teens in the early years of
high school don’t have a clear idea what they want to do after graduation,
HSLDA high school consultants encourage parents to plan as if their teens will attend
college. If high school marks the end of the teen’s formal education, parents
will have prepared them well for whatever paths are chosen. However, if college is
not taken into account, and the teens change their mind in the latter years of high
school, a high school program may fall short of meeting college admission
Matching talent with opportunity [1:28]
Mike: Becky, can you offer any good strategies for high schoolers
to match their skills and talents with potential vocations?
Becky: Well, yes, Mike. Parents and their teens can talk together
on possible volunteer projects, internships, or job shadowing to participate in
during the high school years. These opportunities will give teens real-life
experience in careers they think they want to pursue. For example, my daughter talked
about going into a medical field but wasn’t sure whether she wanted to pursue
nursing or be a neonatal physician. She approached a neonatologist in our church who
invited my daughter to shadow her during one of her shifts. This provided my daughter
time to talk to and watch doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners, gaining valuable
information that helped her to decide to major in nursing.
Part-time jobs are another way of learning new skills or honing talents teens
already have. Or, if a teen shows an entrepreneur aptitude, the parents can encourage
him or her to take an idea and grow it into a home business. Maybe it’ll become
a full-time career!
How not to be a starving artist [2:32]
Mike: Becky, many homeschoolers have wonderful creative talents
and skills in writing, music and more yet it can be very difficult to plan for a
steady income in any of these fields. For promising artists, writers, and others, how
can they prepare in advance to have at least a sustainable career when future success
Becky: Well, Mike, students will benefit from talking to people
currently in these fields for advice relating to education, types of courses to take
in high school, and opportunities to take advantage of to further their abilities.
For instance, an aspiring artist may wish to seek out a mentorship arrangement with a
local professional artist, or participate in a study program offered in their area of
A teen will want to consider if he will be able to earn a living or even support
his family by applying his art full time. Often artists, musicians, writers have a
steady income-generating job in a related field while pursuing their passion.
Therefore, that will determine what education track will be necessary after high
school. A talented artist may find that she can teach art in a school, which
necessitates a college degree, as well as have a studio where she gives art lessons,
lectures, and organizes art shows. So there are many avenues available to students in
The dreaded question [3:49]
Mike: Becky, do you have advice for parents and their high
schoolers who may not know what they want to do after graduation?
Becky: Oh, yeah! A parent can teach a career development course
and include components such as researching careers, interviewing people working in
those types of jobs, learning what education is necessary to be marketable, creating
a resume, and then honing interview skills.
Teens often will develop an interest by taking courses in a particular subject
area. Or, if they’ve always wanted to experience something, a parent can
provide such opportunities during high school. Maybe a teen loves flying and wants to
be a pilot. If the budget allows, he can take flying lessons or participate in the
Civil Air Patrol, where he will soon determine if this is a passing interest or one
to pursue as a career.
There are a number of career aptitude tests available that can be very helpful to
direct teens to majors in college as well as to careers. We have a list of providers
on our high school website in the testing section. The tests are taken online, and
the results are sent to the student upon completion of the test.
Jobs > funnel cakes [4:51]
Mike: Becky, what resources do you recommend to help high
schoolers prepare and plan for potential careers?
Becky: Well, teens can take advantage of career or job fairs in
their community. These are places where they can gather information on what types of
jobs are available, and necessary education and requirements for applicants, suitable
majors to pursue in college (or if college is even necessary), and types of skills
teens can be acquiring now.
Career assessments are informative for teens to discover what types of workplaces
are best suited to their personality. Knowing if they are short-range or long-range
thinkers will be valuable in considering the jobs available in their areas of
interest. Are they team players, or tend to be more independent self-motivated
workers? Parents are great resources because they know their teens and have much life
experience that can be applied in answering these questions.
The HSLDA Homeschooling through High School
website has many additional resources for parents and teens to access, whether
families are thinking about college, the marketplace, or the military.
Mike: Well, thank you so much for joining us this week, Becky. I
know our listeners have benefited tremendously from this week’s topic. And
until next time, I’m Mike Smith.