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What Should My Child Do After High School? Go to College, Trade School or Go to Work?

Society is starved for relevant insights about colleges, trade schools, and other work-learn solutions. Good advice can be found everywhere and that is the problem. Because insights are coming from everywhere it is difficult to make heads or tails of the information. Even for the most well-educated, it is almost impossible to help our children make informed decisions about their future. Many times the best advice comes to us after the decision is already made. For example, you might hear from an old friend who tells you about their career that has an abundance of job openings and then you find out that they were even able to retire at 45. If only you had this information sooner because your child just graduated with a degree in something totally different and is sleeping on your sofa. Should you send them back to school?

It just seems that it would be so much easier if we could find the answers about career preparation and emerging career opportunities when we are looking for them. Having the chance to hear the voices from others in our communities, as well as, industry experts.  It would be excellent to even hear from those individuals with ideas very different from our own. Having access to these perspectives based on varying career-related experiences would give our children the best chance to fulfill our own career aspirations. Just think if you could hear from all of the hiring managers and industry professionals who are seeking employees in a specific region. This type of organic environment would provide amazing value and it could help so many communities thrive. The students graduating from colleges, trade schools and even those going to directly to work would more closely align with the needs of the workforce locally.

As an educator, I always wanted to do more for my students. I consistently brought professionals into my classroom to talk with students, recognizing that students need a village of responses to make better decisions about careers. For this reason, I set out on a course to try and figure out a way that we could help more students find the best career pathways while they were spending the least amount of money on tuition and other career-related expenses. I wanted students to be able to follow their passion, but still, have a realistic focus on how to achieve their goals. The only way through this problem is to provide information that helps students discover who they are while having access to information about all the jobs out there. This is quite a task, given the fact that the Department of Labor has identified at least 1100 job titles. But believe it or not, with the help of other educators we created a system that breaks all of the jobs down into 6 Mega Clusters for easy career matching.

There are certainly places that you can go to find career advice for your child. For example, there is an amazing group called Grown and Flown Parents on Facebook. In this group, parents seek advice from other parents about college for their children. This group is super active in less than 1 hour one career-related question will have will over 50 replies from other parents who have experienced similar situations. This platform is perfect for the person who asked the question and even those who have come across the thread, but wouldn’t it be even better to have a way to organize responses so those with similar questions could quickly and easily find the answers to their questions? These useful insights could help so many more families find the information that they seek. One problem with this group is that is college focused, not every child will attend college so parents of the child going to a trade school might not exactly fit into this group, but they certainly could benefit from hearing the voices of these other parents.

Because so many students and families are struggling to figure it all out, I started an organization in 2017 called Dream2Career. We are working with educators and business professionals on a platform called the D2C Directory. We are in the launching/testing phase of this solution, and we would love to hear your thoughts as we seek access to hiring managers and talent acquisition experts who can add training recommendations and relevant entry-level hiring information.  If you are interested in helping, you are an industry subject matter expert or if you just want to stay informed sign-up and follow our blog. We will keep you updated on the progress.  By this summer, we hope to have a fully functioning work-learn ecosystem that will help students find and prepare for dream careers.

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