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Using the Senior Year as Career Exploration

  • July 23, 2023
  • By Donielle
Using the Senior Year as Career Exploration

As my second homeschooled student begins her senior year of high school, I am in that reflective state. I am looking back at the amazing things we have accomplished and a few things I wish I had done. My second child is so different from my first, of course, that though I planned well and began her education with the end in mind, there were changes and tweaks to the education plan along the way.

The senior year is the last year the homeschooler has at home to spend the day in education, character building, and mastering skills. My oldest daughter was required to cook more in her senior year, to get regular exercise, and to manage her own schedule. My middle daughter is already an amazing cook, a BJJ fighter, and manages her own schedule well. The life skills she needs to walk out of my house with, her struggles, are much different – choosing to study when there are other things going on and cleaning up after herself might be two of those. My youngest will have yet another set of gifts and challenges.

Trying it out

As I plan this senior year, having classically educated her, I know her writing, reading, speaking, and math skills are college ready. This year, while she still must read, speak, write, and calculate, I can focus on narrowing down her many interests into college major and career possibilities. My oldest majored in film, but her interest in law caused me to put together an Introduction to Law class for us to work through together in her senior year (I am a lawyer). Whether or not she ever decides to go to law school, it strengthened her interest in law enough to give her the confidence to try out for the mock trial team in college. She has really enjoyed the mock trial experience.

My second daughter is gifted in the arts. Kids gifted in dance, theater, or music feel so passionately about those hobbies that they often decide to major in theater or music without fully knowing what it would be like to have a career in those fields. A singer in high school, music seemed to me a sensible choice as my college major. I don’t regret it, but I sure would have liked to known ahead of time that I would be working all the weekends and holidays. That was not something that I thought of at 17 years old.

How to Senior

This year my daughter and I will explore the world of journalism, have an introduction to psychology, and create a killer audition piece. She will further her science and math skills in case she decides to pursue nursing. There are several ways to do this. While I put together my own classes in my area of expertise, I did consult the syllabi of other similar courses to make sure I was on the right track. I created a journalism course for my daughter to use this year, focusing on broadcast journalism, but found a dual enrollment course at a college that I trusted for the introductory psychology. Online courses abound for high school electives.

It doesn’t always have to come in the form of a whole course. Sometimes reading a book together helps us to determine whether we want to pursue a field. Internships, summer jobs, and shadowing a professional in a particular field can correct misperceptions about what a job entails. What sounded so boring to them might turn out to be more exciting than initially thought.

College Catalogs

In their junior years, I sat down and examined college catalogs with my girls. Actually looking at the classes you will take for your major is often enlightening. Remind them that class names can sound boring, but end up really interesting. Doing this in 11th grade gives you time to meet and interview professors in the department you are interested in. It doesn’t matter what the admissions department says; they are not the ones you will be learning from. Admissions is often the sales department of a school!

Take advantage of any opportunities to sit in a class that pertains to the desired major. Let them talk to kids in that school with that major as well as professionals within their industry of interest. Have them research the average salaries of their possible professions. Consider carefully whether they will need an advanced degree. Graduate school is very expensive. It took my husband and I 17 years to pay off our graduate school student loans. The cost and the time must have a great return on investment.

Some young people have a really hard time with this and put too much pressure on themselves. Don’t pile on. Give your kid a break. What does a 17 year old know about what a 40 year old would like to do for a living? Not much. But early and thorough investigation might save time and money on changing majors several times.

Don’t forget to pray about it. Cast all your anxieties on God, because He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7)

By Donielle, July 23, 2023
  • 2
  • Josie Mijares
    July 23, 2023

    Oh, Donielle, I love how you have taught and directed your daughters all the way through their senior year, and now preparing them for their future as young responsible adults. I shared your blog with my niece who has two daughters, both straight-A, honor-roll students since first grade with perfect attendance every year, remarkable. They are both extremely athletic as well.

    My niece has been an amazing mother, and quite sharp herself. I do believe your blog may inspire her in preparation for their college as well. They are like you and Gary, they had two older daughters and a six-year-old son.

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