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We Are Failing Our College Freshmen

Last month I had the great honor of being a guest speaker at the Laura Bush Institute for Women’s Health Girls’ Night Out at Angelo State University. It was an event I learned about four years ago when I attended a luncheon where Mrs. Laura Bush spoke. I loved the mission and told a friend, “If there’s ever an opportunity where I can participate, I’d be love to help.” Monday, August 29th, 2016 was that night.

This is an event where girls come together on the first night of classes to talk about topics that impact them. These topics give them new information to empower them as they move forward in their college journey. I spoke about the power assessments can play in the decision-making process. With 1200 girls in one room, I continued my research by asking them a few questions.

One: “How many of you took aptitude assessments?” Maybe five hands went up if that.

Two: “How many of you have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?” About 50 hands went up. I expected more hands to go up because this is a great leadership tool.

Three: “How many of you have taken an Interest Inventory?” Not enough hands to count. I know this is given to young people in most high schools. Typically, it is an online, self-taken assessment. Obviously, it was not effective, as they didn’t acknowledge they took it.

Finally…the big question: “How many of you feel you had TRUE career guidance in high school?” Literally, 10 hands went up.

This is completely unacceptable. I knew the answer to this question because I ask it in every single client session and to every group I talk with. I ask these questions because I absolutely know it’s not happening.

Assessments are the most valid way to help young people determine who they are, what makes sense for them and options that are ideal for their future. The in-depth discussion takes place with a counseling professional to give context to the uncertainty. We must get better. We must find options so when a group of young people beginning their college experience are asked, Do you feel you had career exploration guidance,” they can raise their hand confidently.

We are asking young people to decide on a career track before they begin high school with endorsements but are giving them very little resource to help them “know” their path. I can't tell you how many parents I've met with who had zero knowledge of endorsements and their child had picked one without their knowledge. We are frustrated when college students change majors numerous times, costing parents extra money, don't graduate in four years, and wonder WHY they are stressed out.

We are not doing enough and we must get better! It's why I'm so incredibly passionate about encouraging young people, parents and anyone else who is in a transitional stage of life to seek out guidance professionals to help with the journey. Each high school has counselors. Ask them to go through the results with you. Every university has a career department dedicated to helping young adults. Make an appointment to take the assessments and make sure it includes a review session because you have paid for this service through your fees. And lastly, there are individuals like myself who continue to work hard to educate the public about resources which are statistically valid. If you don't feel you have the support from the suggestions above, find a person who specializes in career assessments.

Please help Reeder Consulting spread the word. Aptitude + Interest = Opportunity! And in my professional opinion, the CONFIDENCE to know they are on the right path in life.

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