Why career exploration must be a K–12 priority

September 19, 2019 | Getting Smart

Career exploration is a critical part of the learning experience, and most schools incorporate it in some form during the last two years of high school. But does that give young people enough time to determine their life direction?

Educators know that basic career decisions are often being considered during the middle school years. Yes, sixth-graders are thinking about their future and many base their tentative plans on what they know of the careers of family members and others in their immediate circle. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but they don’t know what they don’t know about the other opportunities available. They’re starting their decision-making process with very little data.

For many, a broader range of career options is only discovered later, near the end of high school or even in college, when the financial clock starts ticking. They must then scramble to make a decision that may not be the right one — or put it off with a gap year that may extend much longer than originally planned. It’s not ideal, and we can serve our young people better.

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