Career Counseling

Career Planning For High School Students: Helping You Choose A Great Career Path

As high school students and their parents begin to think about college planning, there is often a critical element missing in the process. While there is always some focus on majors, little thought is given to the potential career options that follow that major. A particular college major can be applied to many and varied career paths in the future life of the student. 

Moreover, given the technological strides being made, we are preparing the current generation of students for careers that do not now exist.

Therefore, a true understanding of the career options, individual skills, including soft skills, multiple intelligences, and aptitudes is critical to finding a satisfying and successful career.

Why Is Career Planning Important?

Career planning itself is a career! Finding a qualified career counselor who is trained or certified to administer and interpret various career assessment tools is important to the success of the career planning venture.
Over my almost 30-year career, I have been trained in the Holland Self-Directed Search, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and the Strong Interest Inventory. I took this advanced education because I know the importance of teaching my students how to learn to make more informed decisions. Therefore, I take the time to help them develop self-awareness and skills to evaluate themselves. In the end, this will enhance their ability to get a quality education that will meet their lifetime goals.

How Does a Career Counselor Work?

My students and I discuss the life they see for themselves after college and how these desires play into their career choices. 

For example, if the student wants a personal life where he is home for every holiday and birthday, who wants the predictability of a 9-to-5 routine, there are some careers that are off the table. That leads to a cost-benefit analysis on the student’s part. 

I conduct a guided discussion in which I model active listening so that the students can determine what is most important to them. At its heart, career planning is conversation! 

In our high schools, parents are told that their student has access to assessments like the MBTI/Do What You Are in the Naviance program, but no one explains the results or teaches the student how to interpret them on a personal level. In many ways, I believe that this is worse than offering nothing because it can be confusing and demoralizing to the student who does not have the analytical skills or education to properly interpret the results.

Why Is The Career Planning Offered At My Child’s School Insufficient?

I have been and continue to be struck by the lack of career training offered to both school counselors and Independent Educational Consultants. In my almost two decades of experience teaching in the UCLA College Counseling Certificate Program and formerly for the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) it was rare to have a student who was either certified to administer the most common career assessments or to even understand the many different options available.


Career planning for high school students is difficult because so many professionals simply don’t have the expertise to work with this population. Added to that is the fact that many well-known career assessments are not valid for students before a certain age. While it is not critical for students to have a definite career in mind when applying to college, it is helpful for them to at least know enough about themselves to be pointed in a direction that includes many options.

Aptitude Testing & College Admissions

I have recently become interested in adding aptitude testing to my career planning portfolio. Aptitude does not change after about age 14 whereas some of the other measures do change a bit depending on life experience, and other factors. Aptitude testing is based in the Holland hexagon and suggests that individuals are happiest working and learning with those who are similar to themselves. 

I have had almost 30-years’ experience in working with high school students in the college search and application process. I incorporate career planning to help the student develop the self-awareness necessary to make informed decisions both about career planning and college choices. These two decisions are related and cannot be separated. I am particularly gratified when I see the look on a student’s face who has just found a life direction that incorporates their academic interests with the life direction they want. When I am asked about the Multiple Intelligence assessment that my students take, I share with parents that the focus is on those items in which the student does not excel. Questions like: How can I improve my interpersonal skills? Is it important that my Musical Intelligence is low?

Multiple Intelligence Theory

Multiple Intelligence theory was proposed by Howard Gardiner, a psychologist at Harvard University. It says that each person has eight intelligences that work together. Unlike IQ, which is an indicator of potential, these other intelligences are manifest in each of us, and they explain the range of individual abilities. 

The included intelligences are Visual-Spatial, Linguistic-Verbal, Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic, and Existential. While Multiple Intelligences can explain why some people are more adept at certain endeavors than others, we must not confuse them with either the ability to learn other skills or limit our pursuits to those in which our MI is highest. 

There are ways to shore up those intelligences that we want but do not yet possess in sufficient strength. While these should not be confused with learning styles, there is some overlap. For example, a high kinesthetic student may need to move around to make learning easier. For these students, activity-based learning activities in which they can interact with the environment and other children will enhance learning.

How Career Counseling Sets Your Child Up To Win After College

Many parents come to me with concerns about their child’s major. They want to ensure that their significant investment will lead to a career that will make the student independent. While this is a desirable outcome to acquiring an education, there are other factors to consider. Expecting 17-year-olds to pinpoint exactly what they will do for the rest of their lives is not realistic. Part of the goal of educating a person is for them to be exposed to the myriad options that are available to them. Growth of the person is the goal. This growth, if allowed to proceed naturally, will produce not only the skills necessary for a career but also the passion to follow that path. 

The first step is to stimulate that growth by encouraging exploration and experimentation in the intellectual realm. Then you will have a student who is not only gainfully employed but also happy in their work.

Get In Touch

A Certified Educational Planner and member of IECA since 1995. I have been honored with the Steven R. Antonoff Award for Professional Achievement by the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). Contact Charlotte today.