A student on couch with laptop

How Guidance Counselors Help Students Decide on a Career Path

Part of the guidance counselor job description involves helping students figure out their career plans. Whether they are going to college or directly to work, narrowing down their interests, capabilities and preferences early can help counselors and students chart a plan through high school that will support their post-secondary goals.

A career counselor does more than simply ask a student what he or she wants to do. There are a number of questions and tests than can provide insights into careers and jobs that will suit each student’s abilities, dreams and requirements.

1. Look at the Student’s Favorite Classes

Areas of academic excellence and interest are usually a good indication of what students like to do. A student interested in shop may prefer to work with his or her hands, one who loves math may want to become a scientist or engineer and one who excels in physical education might want to become a fitness trainer or a sports coach. Skills within subject areas can also be telling. Someone who excels at long history papers might translate those skills to a field that requires extensive research and analysis.

2. Consider Extracurriculars and Hobbies

Activities outside of school point to what students find fun — which can also be an important part of work. Band or music lessons signal an interest in the arts and perhaps creative endeavors that involve groups. Sports show an understanding of teamwork and strategy. Solo activities might indicate that the student would prefer a career where they can work mainly on their own.

3. Explore Study Habits and Social Skills

Does the student like or just tolerate being in class? Is she or he often tardy or skipping classes? Some people do well in a structured environment, such as an office. Others prefer a more active, looser environment, or they may not want to be in the same environment every day. These habits can help indicate whether they will thrive in a job that involves being at a desk all day, if they would prefer to work from home, if they would prefer to travel to a different environment, or if they want a job that requires them be more physically active.

4. Ask About Income and Financial Preferences

It can be hard for high school students to imagine the reality of financial income, but this is a valuable question for those who are mature enough to truly consider it. Is financial stability important to them? Or are they OK with a more freelance lifestyle? This may also help students explore the kind of studies or training they will need to get to the income level they want. Gently asking about family beliefs and habits about income and savings, where appropriate, can also offer insights.

5. Career and Personality Tests

Assessments that measure and analyze personal preferences and aptitudes are valuable tools for narrowing a professional path. There are many career tests available online. Personality quizzes like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the DiSC® Profile can point to traits that reflect how and where people work best.

Helping students figure out their career plans involves more than just asking them what they want to do. A good career counselor knows what questions to ask and what tools to use to assist students in a decision that can affect the rest of their lives. The online Master of Education in School Counseling at Our Lady of the Lake University can prepare you to empower and assist students as they determine their careers, post-secondary plans and more.