This week's guest post was written A. Larry Ross Communications. Kristin Cole, President, was very gracious to allow me to share their blog that was originally posted on their website on October 29, 2020.
ALR Communications is a public relations firm located in Carrollton, Texas, whose clients clients include LeTourneau University, Biola University, I Am Second, Compassion International, YouVersion Bible App, Thomas Nelson Publishing, and movie premiers, ministries, and many others.
Their purpose is not to manufacture an image for clients, but rather to establish and project their existing identity to a broadened group of target audiences.
I'm sharing this blog for students who might feel called to public relations, defined as "the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person" (Dictionary.com).
Edward Bernays is widely regarded as the founder of Public Relations, having pioneered the field in the 1920s. However, long before Bernays codified modern-day concepts that continue to define the profession, the Bible described many PR principles that remain valuable today. Just as the disciple Timothy described God’s Word as being “profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness,” it is also proven to be beneficial for guiding one’s PR approach and providing an understanding of its importance.
Sometimes, PR gets a bad rep due to often poorly handled PR scandals. But in many ways, PR is a biblical concept that no ministry leaders or influencers should have shame in seeking.
Here are a few ways we see aspects of public relations throughout the Bible.
Managing a Reputation
"A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1).
One of the most important aspects of PR is reputation management. Some may believe that merely doing a good job and maintaining a good work ethic is enough of an effort to avoid public scrutiny, and while it should be, that isn’t always the case. Many organizations and individuals with outstanding images have found themselves in situations of trying to prove their integrity. In this Digital Age, where information can spread to millions online in a matter of minutes, unfortunately, all it takes is one person with an ill motive for a good reputation to go bad overnight without effective reputation management.
In the Scriptures, we see caution for Christians to only do good but to carefully avoid having even an “appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). It seems that even thousands of years ago, the writers of the Bible understood how critical it is to be above reproach both in deed and appearance.
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15).
Just as it is not necessarily enough to have a good reputation without managing it, knowing why we do what we do may hold little value if we are not prepared to defend our actions should a crisis come. We have all seen debates or interviews on TV where those being questioned were not ready to defend their stance or succinctly answer a question and the public scrutiny that followed. Once again, the Bible provided wisdom for avoiding these situations long before PR became a lucrative career.
This is one of the many reasons why seeking help from PR professionals, even when not experiencing a crisis or executing a campaign, is wise. An effective PR team can provide wisdom in helping you to understand the key message points about your organization, ministry, product or brand that should be communicated to the public and how to do so effectively. Additionally, they can help identify potential weak or problematic points that could be called into question and the best tactics for defending each one with honesty and poise.
Scripture tells us that a wise man builds his house upon a rock, which can weather storms, while the foolish man seeks a quick fix, building his house on sand that disintegrates during a crisis (Matthew 7:24-27). In the same way, PR professionals can provide the wisdom needed to present a message or navigate a problem before the time of testing comes so that you are prepared like the man who built his house on the rock.
Being an Ambassador
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
As public relations professionals, our job is to serve as a middleman between our clients and the public. Similarly, as Christians, our job is to be the intermediary between Christ and those who do not know Him. Consider Moses, who was appointed by God to be his spokesperson to the Israelites, and Jesus, who is the ultimate spokesman between God and His people.
Whether we realize it or not, every individual acts as an ambassador for what they believe in or represent. It is not a question of if you are sending a message, but what that message is. PR professionals are equipped to act as a communications ambassador for those who may lack skill or expertise in being an effective ambassador on their own.
As professional communicators and Christians, we can recognize the benefits of public relations and its principles as they relate to being better ministry leaders and influencers. We continue to learn through the evolution of PR today but can look to the Bible for guidance as well.
Could a career in public relations be your higher calling?
💵 Money! 💵
That is what I hear when students (even my own) are discussing future career options.
Yes, even as I preach about “solving problems” and “finding your purpose” as the career driver, a high paying job is what is desired.
Okay, I get it.
So lets look at the median salary’s for the fastest growing careers.
There are three paths to good jobs: high school diplomas, middle skills, and postsecondary degrees.
The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University defines “good jobs as ones that pay at least $35,000; average $56,000 for workers with less than a bachelor’s degree; and average $65,000 for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree.
Let’s look at a few of the fastest growing occupations based on the entry-level education required.
🎓HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA
With a high school diploma, you can become a solar photovoltaic installer and earn above the national average. SP installers assemble, install, or maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on roofs or other structures in compliance with site assessment and schematics. May include measuring, cutting, assembling, and bolting structural framing and solar modules. May perform minor electrical work such as current checks. At fifty percent growth, this is projected to be the fastest growing occupation over the next decade among the over 300 jobs available for high school graduates.
Fastest Growing Occupation: Solar Photovoltaic Installer
Median Salary: $46,850
Highest Paying Occupation: Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
Median Salary: $103,320
There are 45 occupations that require a certificate (also called a postsecondary nondegree award). If you want to enter the fastest growing career in all categories (sixty-one percent) for a few years, consider becoming a wind turbine service technician. WTS technicians inspect, diagnose, adjust, or repair wind turbines. They perform maintenance on wind turbine equipment including resolving electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic malfunctions.
Fastest Growing Occupation: Wind Turbine Service Technician
Median Salary: $56,700
Highest Paying Occupation: First-line Supervisors of Firefighting and Prevention Workers
Median Salary: $82,010
There are 46 occupations that require an associate’s degree for employment. Occupational therapy assistants are the fastest growing career for those earning a 2-year degree at a community college. OTAs assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with State laws, assist in development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, direct activity programs, and document the progress of treatments.
Fastest Growing Occupation: Occupational Therapy Assistants
Median Salary: $61,880
Highest Paying Occupation: Air Traffic Controllers
Median Salary: $122,990
With 169 occupations that require a bachelor’s degree (a 4-year degree), you have a wide range of career clusters to choose from including health science, information technology, STEM, and business management.
Medical and health services managers plan, direct, or coordinate medical and health services in hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, public health agencies, or similar organizations. This managerial position is the fastest growing career that requires a bachelor’s degree and could grow amid the demands of the pandemic.
In college you could major in Community Health, Emergency Services Management, Health Services Administration/Management, or Health Studies.
Fastest Growing Occupation: Medical and Health Services Managers
Median Salary: $115,160
Highest Paying Occupation: Petroleum Engineers
Median Salary: $156,780
As you can see, there are a lot of occupational options. When you level up your education, you level up your opportunity to earn more money.
To help you narrow down your options, you should begin by answering the following question: what problems do you want to solve?
As you discover that answer, you can research careers that will help you solve that problem.
Then you can enjoy the process of finding the right college for you.
If you need help, work with your high school guidance counselor or consider hiring me as your educational consultant.
🥓What motivates you to get up in the morning? Playing on your PS4. Cheerleading practice. The virtual school bell. Bacon. Your father.
The motivation to apply for college may not have the same urgency because it seems so far down the road.
As you prepare to enter the future workforce, Ken Costa, author of Know Your Why, reminds us that we are called to worship God in every area of our lives.
He writes that we need "to make our workstations our worship stations." 🛐
Most high school students are not thinking about this marketplace ministry mindset sitting in their classrooms. Even as followers of Jesus.
For those students, it's simply about graduating high school, being accepted to a college, and finding a way to pay for their education.
Let's stop and think about Costa's three reasons why people work. Which group you see yourselves in right now?
💰 Some want to work for cash – to make ends meet.
💼 Some want to work for a career – to move up a ladder.
🤝🏻 Some want to work for a cause – to make a difference.
For the majority of adult workers, I would believe that cash is the motivating factor.
My high school junior is focused on cash. Apparently, he needs another pair of sneakers!
As you research your careers and colleges, which motivating factor (cash, career, cause) is informing your decisions?
When deciding on a major for your career, you need to know your why. Developing your vocational calling - the type of work God has created you to do in the marketplace - will make that decision easier.
Also, college admissions officers know you have "passion" for your chosen field. Is that enough to set you apart? Is that enough to motivate you to "work for the Lord" (Colossians 3:23)? Is that your why?
Know that God wants the best for you - plans to prosper you, plans to give you hope, plans to give you a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Not to flounder without motivation.
🤷♂️ As you think about what motivates you to work, what conversations do you need to have with parents, teachers, mentors, or advisors to help you shift the focus to your calling?
When you think of energy do you think of that pink rabbit endlessly playing the bass drum?
Or how about a Jack Russell Terrier? Described as a charming, affectionate and lively dog that is also a handful to train and manage. And don’t try to cage a Jack Russell. He’ll bust through those wires and wreak havoc on your living room. (So I’ve heard.)
To help you identify your passion, you need to think about what energizes you. Quickly make a list of a few things that you never get tired of doing.
What gets you up in the morning?
What keeps you up at night?
Where do you focus your boundless energy?
When you identify what energizes your life, you’ll find the keys that unlock and identify your passion.
You also need to think about out what or who drains your energy. Does that environment, person, or situation slow you down and put you in a cage? Find ways to eliminate those “energy vampires” (as Jon Gordon calls them). Doing so will free you to do your best work.
Additionally, realizing what changes you want to make in your life can give you insights into your passion. In a blog about traits that accelerate your influence at work, Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis wrote that “passion is what fuels your intention and strategies for creating change.”
Glenn encourages us to talk about what excites us most with others. It may open doors of opportunity within your circle of influence at your church or in your community. He wrote, “your passion defines the magnitude of the impact you seek to create.”
What are you seeking to create?
Energize your life today!
Experiencing life helps teenagers focus their energy and identify their passion.
You can narrow down your career choices while practicing physical distancing by volunteering remotely, earning online certifications, developing a hobby, learning a skill, or getting a part-time job in industries that energize you.
Experience gives you opportunities to fail in a safe environment while you develop transferable skills.
Perhaps you have an answer when asked “what do you love to do?”
I love to fish. I love to draw. I love to code. I love to play basketball. I love it when I win the Battle Royale.
In his book, “Reset: How to get paid and love what you do,” author Dustin Peterson asks the reader to dig deeper. He asks, “what do you love about what you love to do?” Finding those answers will reveal the talent that drives your passion which leads to transferable skills for you to develop. It may take time for you to really develop your skills before getting noticed.
Here are three simple ways to gain experience:
The first way to gain experience is to EARN.
Earn a paycheck at a part-time job doing work. Yes, work. Mowing lawns, filling orders, bagging groceries, or stocking shelves will teach you many skills and disciplines that you can apply anywhere.
Earn certifications in coding, accounting, Microsoft Office, or other skilled areas.
Earn micro-credentials from local colleges.
Jennifer Tardy encourages us to “keep thinking about your career path and think about what skills you have today that are transferable to another industry.”
The second way to gain experience is to LEARN.
Learn from webinars, masterclasses, and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). Visit Class Central for list of all free and paid MOOCs.
Learn from reading magazines and lots and lots of books.
The third way to gain experience is to INTERN.
Unfortunately, 34% of summer internships have been cut or cancelled because of Covid-19.
So you’ll need to network to find projects or online volunteer options. Visit local job boards, LinkedIn, or state workforce websites for opportunities.
If you are at least 16 years old, set up your LinkedIn and social media profiles. I would encourage you to take the social media course through Social Assurity (save $250 using the coupon code BRETT2020 when you check out). Know that 36% of admissions officers view college applicants’ social media and 32% said what they found had a negative impact (Kaplan Survey).
Whether you earn, learn, or intern, remember that what you know is not as important as what you’ve learned. While a degree will open the door, your skills will help you soar.
Experience life today!
Everyone wants to enjoy life.
You are in a place where you are free to create life exactly the way you want, with no constraints or limitations.
When you realize what you enjoy about life, it will help you identify your passion.
Pay attention to what you spend your time doing, reading, talking, and thinking about. Take inventory on your hobbies, friendships, and above experiences.
Some of your passions will not turn into a career. You may be a volunteer coach or mentor. You may write lines of poetry to relieve stress. You may draw simply because it makes you smile.
Enjoy life today!
As you add up what energizes you, your experiences, and what you enjoy, you eventually turn your passion into a career.
Addressing the impact of coronavirus on the economy, The New Yorker published a story about Kelly Bates, “a forty-one-year-old single mom who lives with her nine-year-old daughter a middle-income neighborhood of aging red-brick row houses a few miles from the Philadelphia airport.”
While working as an assistant director at a chain of local child-care centers, she is also earning her bachelor’s degree in early-childhood education. She said that, “Babies are my passion. I’m part mom, part dad, part therapist, part doctor, and part food-program officer.”
BEFORE YOU GO
Do you think your passion could be your higher calling?
Don’t be like Alice in Wonderland asking for directions on where to go but not caring where she went. Register for my FREE WEBINAR on how to connect fast growing careers to God's calling on your life!
And remember, “All things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Summer can be the best time for students to recharge, explore, and think about their future. High school students, especially freshmen and sophomores, should use the break to unwind, but also plan for the next academic year. You'll also have time to fine tune your higher calling while exploring your options. Opportunities worth mentioning include summer programs at universities, campus visits, internships, part time jobs, and volunteering. Let’s get started!
Summer programs are designed for high school students to experience a field of study before pursuing it as a major. For example, if you think engineering might be a good major to pursue, it would be wise to participate in an engineering summer program where you would get a feel for what the major actually entails (hint: lots of math and science). You will also get to spend a week or more (depending on the program) on campus, which would introduce you to college life.
The downside to summer programs is that they tend to be fairly expensive. So, if your family isn’t able to afford a summer program and scholarships are not available, an alternate way to experience college would be to visit campuses. A college visit could be as simple as a day trip with your parents where you tour the campus and speak with university representatives, or if your schedule allows, you could make multiple campus visits over the period of a week. Oftentimes, visiting a campus is the best way to determine what you desire in the college experience. Remember, it isn’t only about academics.
But, if you have already visited campuses or plan to do so in the fall it might be better for you to focus on working this summer. Part time jobs are a fantastic way to gain an understanding of business and establish a solid work ethic, or you could think about internship opportunities with local companies and organizations. Internships are great for students who have an idea about what they want to study because they introduce you to people and companies that are doing what you’re interested in. For example, if you want to work for a magazine one day and you get an internship with a local periodical or newspaper, you will get to see what your potential future career looks like on a daily basis.
If internships and part-time jobs aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, and you desire a more altruistic summer experience, see if there are any volunteer opportunities near your home. Contact schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations to ask about age and experience requirements, and you will be well on your way to getting involved with something philanthropic this summer.
From summer programs to college visits, part time jobs to internships, the most important thing for high school students is to make the most of your summer! Think about how you’d like to spend your time, and get started because the next school semester will be here before you know it. Download TeenLife’s Guide to Overnight Summer Programs for more ideas. Have fun planning for college and your future career this summer!
"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
You may have heard that without vision, teenagers wander into food court water fountains. Or something like that. It's the same with college planning, without a vision, college-bound students may wander. College planning is a process. You need a plan. In the "Rising Cost of Not Going to College," researchers learned that "the surest path to a good job and satisfying career runs through college."
In Genesis 2:15, we read that God placed man in the garden to "work and watch over it." The original desire for work was a blessing. It sounds like Adam's higher calling was to be a gardener!
Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you're born and the day you find out why." Here are four steps you can take to help you find your why.
Step 1: First, decide that you want to earn a post-secondary education. This is important because some jobs may only require a certificate or some technical training. Others require more education. I recommend earning a four-year bachelor's degree since 65% of future jobs will require a bachelor's degree.
A 53-year old firefighter has been working as a professional fireman in Dallas since he was 19 years old. What an incredible career of service to his community! He earned his 2-year associate's degree years ago. When a Fire Chief opening became available, he wanted to apply. While he has the required experience, he does not have the required education. To become a Fire Chief, he needs a 4-year bachelor's degree. It is important to know what your career goals are, so you can plan accordingly.
Once a decision to earn a bachelor's degree has been made, you need to develop a plan. Start by searching for a major in a fast growing career that complements your calling. When trying to figure out what you're called to do, remember to consider what problems you want to solve, what grips your heart, and even what keeps you up at night - besides cramming for that world history midterm.
Step 2: Once you have selected a major, find a college that is a good academic, social, and emotional fit. If you select a college before you select a career option, you may find out that your favorite I'm-going-to-this-college-no-matter-what doesn't have a program with your desired major.
And what about the potential social and emotional fit. Angel Perez, Director of Admission at Pitzer College wisely said to “keep an open mind about everything you do in college. . . ‘some may’ make you uncomfortable. If you are always comfortable, you will never grow.” Bruce Poch, Dean of Admissions at Pomona College added that "Students who know what they are looking for have better luck finding it and can do a better job of articulating their hopes and interests in their applications.
So step 1 (major selection) comes before step 2 (college selection).
Step 3: Then, when you have a list of colleges that are a good match based on your career choice, you can determine which is the best financial fit. If you start with the cost in mind, you may eliminate affordable options. Since the average four-year cost of attendance is between $83,000 - $183,000 depending on the college (public or private) and career (liberal arts, engineering, aviation), you need to have a plan to pay for college.
Step 4: Now that you've made a commitment to attend the college that is the best fit for you, you're ready to begin preparing for your higher calling, future career and life goals. So let's start career planning.
Robert J. Massa, VP for Enrollment at Dickinson College once said that "There are at least 50 colleges that will be a “right fit” for you!” The challenge is to narrow them down to the right one. Making wise decisions doesn't just happen. You need to plan, work, review, and revise your plans. Remember, discovering your higher calling, as well as college planning, is a process (video by Chispa Motivation).
FUN FACT: At some colleges, students are tossed into campus water fountains on their birthday. Hope you were born in a warm month!
The Role of a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists, sometimes referred to as PTs, help people who have injuries or illnesses improve their movement and manage their pain. They are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries.
Demand: PTs provide care to people of all ages who have functional problems resulting from sprains, strains, and injuries from cranes (the equipment or the bird). They work with aging baby boomers who are staying active and older persons who are not (heart attacks, strokes, and mobility-related injuries), and others with birth conditions.
Developments: Medical and technological developments also are expected to permit a greater percentage of trauma victims and newborns with birth defects to survive, creating additional demand for rehabilitative care. PTs are trained to use a variety of different techniques—sometimes called modalities—to care for their patients. These techniques include applying heat and cold, hands-on stimulation or massage, and using assistive and adaptive devices and equipment.
Diseases: The work of PTs varies with the type of patients they serve. For example, a patient suffering from loss of mobility due to Parkinson’s disease needs different care than an athlete recovering from an injury. The incidence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has increased in recent years, requiring more physical therapists to help patients manage the effects of these diseases.
Da-Technology: Advances in medical technology have increased the use of outpatient surgery to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses. PTs will continue to play an important role in helping these patients recover more quickly from surgery. Technology will aid, rather than replace workers in this field. Soldiers are receiving C-Legs or C-Arms with an imbedded chip allowing them to recover with the most natural feel.
What is the Job Outlook for Physical Therapists?
The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great resource to learn about careers. It is constantly among the fastest growing careers and is projected to grow 28 percent through 2026. The median annual wage for physical therapists was $86,850 in May 2017, which has risen $10,000 in less than five years.
While 58 percent work in private hospitals or offices, 17 percent work in home health care and residential care facilities, 7 percent are self-employed.
Most PTs work full time (29 percent are part time). PTs spend much of their time on their feet, being active. Job prospects should be especially favorable in rural areas because many PTs live in highly populated urban and suburban areas.
How to Become a Physical Therapist
Some careers don’t require specific undergraduate education. However, in the medical world, a criminal justice major cannot find a job as a physical therapist. You’d have to change majors and be very specific when looking for colleges that prepare you to become a physical therapist.
While in high school, your curriculum should include: Physics (mechanics, force, joints), Anatomy & Physiology (duh?), Chemistry, Statistics (to interpret research), Psychology (to understand people), Biology (something about the study of life), and English Composition (you need clear written and verbal communication).
As an undergraduate student, there are hundreds of colleges but your program options are limited to Athletic Trainer, Kinesiology and Exercise Science and Pre-Physical Therapy.
Professional physical therapy programs no longer offer masters degrees, so you must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and pass a state licensure exam to work in the field.
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, there were 209 accredited physical therapist education programs in 2007. Of the accredited programs, 43 offered master's degrees and 166 offered doctoral degrees. In the future, a doctoral degree might be the required entry-level degree.
One Student’s Journey to Becoming a Physical Therapist
I sat down with Stan to learn more about how he became a physical therapist. He was like most high school students – unsure what pathway he wanted to pursue. He loved English and Biology, but hated math. As a student-athlete, he played on the offensive line in football and wrestled and mulled over the possibility of becoming an athletic trainer.
He enrolled at the University of North Texas where he earned his bachelor of science in criminal justice However, he took a freshman anatomy & physiology course that piqued his interest. After graduating, he went back to earn his masters (MPT) while working as a PT Tech (who mainly observes and assists, but does not diagnose or counsel).
He has worked at two hospitals as a PT and recently earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy! In the hospital, he works with the general population or with recovering ICU patients. He loves seeing results and seeing patients achieve their goals. Depending on their plan, he may see patients once or multiple times.
No job is without its challenges. As a physical therapist, you are constantly working with people who are in pain or are sick and you’re always on your feet. You’ll have to lift people, speak clearly, listen intently, and be patient. Stan said PTs have to manage other people’s schedules, agendas & goals while working with an Interdisciplinary Team (usually 6 people per patient).
With so many refusing treatments, he has to explain why therapy is important and he said it reminds him of the movie “50 First Dates.”
But in the end, he reminds himself that it’s not about him – it is not about advancement or agendas, it’s about the patient.
If you want to become a physical therapist like Stan, you’ll need to have the following characteristics:
Finally, Stan shared a few misconceptions. People think they are walking techs – he is actually a doctor. PTs are not human cranes, they are “helpers” not “doers.” They do not manipulate bones like a chiropractor. Chiropractors want to fix problems by popping your back (temporary solution) so they can have lifelong clients. PTs are looking for the root cause and want you to get back on your feet.
So, your fourth grader is interested in climbing trees, Minecraft, macaroni and cheese, dressing up like Princess Mulan, and college? How exciting!
One elementary school student just celebrated birthday number ten! She enjoys singing, playing the piano, drawing, and Skittles. She has already “committed” to attend Texas Southern University. That’s right! One of her young classmates was talking about college, declared where and what she was going to study, and all the girls followed suit. I told her mom not to discourage the decision, because she can build on that desire later. Let them “play college.”
If you think about it, didn’t we all have career dreams or play career dress-up? I wanted to be a fireman, policeman, teacher, architect, astronaut, and a preacher. I soon learned that I was not fond of heights, so flying to space was no longer an option.
Even though some states require that every grade explore careers and college options, nurturing your young child to prepare for college is actually a brilliant idea!
My wife and I had lunch with mom of three children ages 12, 9 and 4. After the meal, the kids were playing with cars, reading, wrestling, and crying. Once mom learned that I was an educational consultant in the world of college planning, she began asking a lot of questions. She shared that in her circle of influence, the parents were already discussing the possibility of their children going to college.
In one conversation, we discussed what it would take to major in astronomy because her middle child is interested in flying (her dad is an airline pilot), telescopes, and space. I mentioned attending space camps, playing with telescopes, and having fun. I also emphasized math, science, and learning a second language.
Kids love connecting the dots to discover the image on the paper. As parents and educators, we need to help them connect the dots from careers to majors to higher education to their higher calling.
Consider how the National Association for College Admission Counseling is helping build a career superhighway. They have a guide called “College Awareness and Planning: Elementary School.”
I agree that “introducing students to career and college exploration in elementary school will provide them the opportunity to establish a foundation for more in-depth conversations and exploration about their futures in later years.”
School counselors should help students identify personal interests, link those interests to possible careers, and encouraging students to express their initial thoughts about college. They should also prompt students to list some characteristics they might look for in a college, understand basic college-related terms, and incorporate aids that match their preferred learning styles.
Caralee Adams wrote that, “by creating a college-going culture in elementary school, the hope is that students will aspire to a lifelong path toward higher education and deeper learning that ends with a degree.” While higher education is not every student’s dream, creating an environment in the classroom and at home establishes a mindset that all things are possible.
Prepare for College
Here are four simple ways to help your children prepare for college.
Students need to do their best in school. Encourage them to try new things and work through problems.
Let your children explore the world of ideas, art, creativity, science, and diversity. Visit children’s museums, visit college campuses, invite college students to the elementary school, and have a career dress-up day. There is no replacement for a great education.
And encourage your kids to have fun playing games as they learn about jobs.
Read. A. Book. One that has paper, a cover, a spine, and the potential for paper cuts. While technology is wonderful, limit their screen time.
Another tip is to encourage your child to read a lot.
One more tip is to read aloud to your child so they develop an interest in reading, careers, and hearing the voices that you give the book characters.
After they read, encourage them to play inside and outside. They need to explore, be creative, learn to fall, learn to fail, communicate, and enjoy being a kid. Challenge them to build a “sand-campus” – a college university in the sand (I did this with adults!).
One of the MOST IMPORTANT decisions you can make as a parent is to include higher education in your annual budget. Yes, it will be hard. But it is worth it. Just know that the four-year cost of attendance for a highly selective private college bachelor’s degree program is a quarter of a million dollars ($250,000).
There are many ways to reduce that by 50%-75%, but not if you wait until the second semester of their sophomore year.
The Student Aid Checklist for Elementary School gives three steps you can take now:
Elementary school is not too early to think about what you want to be when you grow up.
Since learning, reading, playing, and saving are important for your elementary school children, it is more important if you have a student in high school. Contact me when you are ready to start planning for college!
So, how do you feel when you are considering what to study in college?
Many college applications require you to select a major or state that you are “undeclared”. Being undeclared simply means that you are not ready to select a major because there are so many options. This is so true for perceivers, those who are spontaneous - basically, non-planners like me. This is a good option especially if you are attending a liberal arts college.
But what is the best way to choose a major? Here are 5 ideas to guide you.
Ode to the Undeclared Major
One of the most popular majors at universities is the “undeclared” major. Many universities or colleges recognize you may not be ready to declare a major when you start as a freshman. Often you do not have to declare your major until sometime in your sophomore year. There are a few universities that don’t offer “undeclared” as an option. You will know which colleges require majors from their websites and applications.
Talk to a school counselor or career counselor, take a career assessment, or use the list of majors or careers to explore professions in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Credit: GuidedPath Guru
It’s never too early to explore career options. Going to a children’s museum to play farmer, astronaut, fireman, or teacher is a great way to start. However, as a teenager, you might resist attending that family outing (while secretly wishing you could go with your friends).
So, before completing any career assessments or having informal conversations with industry professionals, take a few moments to research the career data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And ask yourself a question: what would you enjoy doing for 2,000+ hours a year?
There are around 300 occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree for employment. So, you’ll have plenty of options to consider. There are only 14 declining occupations that require a 4-year degree including computer programmers, reporters and editors.
The good news is that there are over 100 occupations with an excellent future based on percentage job growth. So, among the first things to consider when researching your career options are median salary (after 10 years on the job, the average is $77,000), number of annual job openings (it varies between 300 and 200,000) and the required time to earn your degree (4-11 years).
Ultimately, your goal is to earn a degree in a growing occupation that will provide a competitive salary, challenge you, and allow you to contribute to society. And you should have fun too!
A bachelor’s degree takes four-years or less to complete. There are 56 bachelor’s degrees that are considered to be growing faster than average. This means that the occupation has a projected growth between 10% - 37% over the next decade.
With a median salary of $100,080 per year, applications software development is the fourth fastest growing career. At 30.5%, it has the largest projected growth for graduates with a bachelor’s degree.
There are over 85,000 projected job openings per year for applications software developers, second only to registered nurses. Job titles may include Computer Applications Developer / Engineer, Database Developer, or Software Applications Architect / Designer / Engineer.
Information security analysts has a projected growth of 28.4% and Operations research analysts is projected to have the third largest growth at 27.4%
Low but steady growth is projected for 13 occupations including civil engineers (10.6%), technical writers (10.9%), software developers, systems software (10.8%), and financial analysts (10.8%).
In reviewing the data from all 800+ occupations (including those that don’t require a college degree) the one thing that stood out to me was the number of declining professions that require a master’s degree. Zero. Depending on the occupation, you’d only need an extra year or two in graduate school to secure a better job outlook. More education provides more options.
If you think you might be interested in pursuing a graduate degree, know that the top three occupations projected to grow over the next decade might be good fits for those who enjoy math and science.
Nurse practitioners have been among the fastest growing occupations for the past six years. Currently, the projected growth is 36% over the next decade. Nurse practitioners have 14,000 annual job openings and enjoy a median salary of over $101,000.
Surpassing them with a 37.4% projected growth are physician assistants. They may work as an assistant in anesthesiology, family practice, pediatrics or radiology. This health science occupation also has a median salary of $101,000 with about 11,000 annual job openings.
For those who enjoy playing with numbers and formulas, you might enjoy becoming a statistician. Statisticians work in government research, biology labs, large corporations, with environmentalists, and in professional sports. This career has a projected growth of 33.4% (about 4,000 jobs a year) and median salary of $81,000.
Low but steady growth is projected for urban and regional planners (12.8%) and school counselors (11.3%).
DOCTORAL / PROFESSIONAL
The health professions that require the most education (up to 7 additional years after earning your bachelor’s) and have the greatest growth projection are postsecondary health specialties professors in clinical sciences, dentistry, neurology, physical therapy (25.9% growth), physical therapists (25%), postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers (24%), and audiologists (20.4%).
Even though additional education (consider the cost!) is required, the top five fastest growing occupations have a median salary of $84,000. Students need to research all of their options to determine how much and how long they are willing to learn.
Pharmacists have a 5.6% projected career growth. The three occupations with the lowest projected growth are appointed or elected positions as judges.
Now that you’ve considered these numbers, pray about your higher calling, complete a reliable career assessment, and start researching your top three career options using O*Net OnLine and the Occupational Outlook Handbook to discover a career that is right for you.
(And its okay if you want to visit the children's museum.)
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.