What is typically involved in a career guidance session with a Junior Certificate (Age 15/16) candidate? What important factors do you consider with the candidate? A session at this age would generally be geared at helping students develop skills such as self-management of their time, awareness of their own talents and weaknesses, study skills and coping strategies to help them deal with the challenges posed by adolescence. Also while choosing subjects for the Junior Cert is not difficult it is important for students to include Science and a modern language as otherwise they can seriously reduce the options available to them at a later stage.
How important is subject choice from Junior Certificate Level going into Leaving Certificate (17/18)? Why is career guidance and career advice so important at this stage of a student’s career? Subject choice from Junior Cert going into Leaving Cert is extremely important and this is the ideal time for educational and career guidance. Students need information on the implications and consequences of choosing or not choosing certain subjects or a particular level e.g. Honors Irish is needed for primary school teaching, Honors Maths is needed for direct entry to en engineering degree. Students also need to be shown the links between particular subjects and career areas. An honors in honors Maths for example is needed for 95 honors degree programmers. At this stage interest inventories, learning style tests and yourself awareness tools can also be very useful in helping students pick subjects.
What is typically involved in a career guidance session with a graduates candidate? A typical career guidance session with a student who is in Leaving Certificate would begin by chatting to the student about their interests and hobbies and family background, their dreams and aspirations, their education to date. Then looking at the subjects the student is studying and how they are progressing and whether they are happy with the levels they are taking subjects at. It is important if a student is going to drop from honors to Ordinary level that they don’t leave it until the last few minute and that they are aware of the consequences a change in level may have. We would then together try to predict the points that the student is likely to achieve with a range from best case scenario to worst.
The next stage of the process is to carry out an interest inventory and skills assessment. The aim here is to help the students yourself awareness. Many students also do aptitude tests in school and the results of these can also help students yourself awareness or if necessary aptitude tests can be carried out. You then sit down and look at the results of the various tests and the students’ aspirations and together begin mapping out possible avenues open to the student for further study. It is important for the student to take control of their journey and therefore spending time giving them the necessary tools for further self-directed research.
Many students would have a follows up session often a few months later which would focus more on making their college applications and covering all options. Here we would look at college entry requirements, course entry requirements and points. It is essential that students only apply for courses that they have researched. The biggest cause of student dropout at third level is students not understanding what their course is about and what subjects they will be studying. It is essential that they have read the entire syllabus for every course they apply to. The next most important factor is to apply for the courses you want in the order you want them not according to how many points it took students last year.
How do you diagnose what career direction is best for a Leaving Certificate student? Do psychometric tests and interest tests offer direction for both the career guidance counselor and the candidate?
Career guidance is just that guidance. You cannot diagnose what career direction is best for anyone but you can guide them in realizing the talents they may have and provide them with the tools for self-directed research. You can help them identify strengths and recognize areas that need improvement. Psychometric tests and interest tests are certainly useful tools that help offer direction for the counselor and the client. However they should never be considered on their own.