Academic journal article High School Journal

An Experimental Career Counseling Workshop for Lebanese Secondary School Students

Academic journal article High School Journal

An Experimental Career Counseling Workshop for Lebanese Secondary School Students

Article excerpt

Career counseling is an area long neglected in Lebanon. To assess whether secondary school students could benefit from structured career counseling activities, an experimental workshop was conducted at a private school in Beirut, attended by 116 secondary school students. The workshop consisted of a sequence of activities, including self-exploration and the administration of Holland's SDS, and culminated in a preliminary selection of a college major. A pre-assessment questionnaire showed that students had insufficient information about majors and colleges and expressed a significant need for assistance in this area. The workshop evaluation questionnaire showed that the workshop was effective in providing students with helpful information to choose a college major. Students also found valuable the experience of discussing their interests, abilities, and work values in a small group format. The study concluded that the need for career guidance at the school level should no longer be ignored and that structured career guidance should be delivered at all levels, particularly to secondary students.

High school is generally perceived as the period that ushers in the young adulthood stage. During this period marked by confusion, students search for stable self-concepts that would integrate all aspects of themselves- skills, values, beliefs, interests, emotions and sexuality. One of the most important developmental tasks with which high school students must deal is setting personal and professional goals that are congruent with their self-concepts and environment. For college-bound students, a typical task involves choosing a field of specialization in college, and hence, a career. This realization constitutes the backbone of career guidance and career counseling.

Further, the world of work has become appreciably more complex due to increased automation, specialization, international competition, phasing out of many traditional jobs, robotics, change of sex roles and so forth, thereby making appropriate career choices even more challenging (Herr, 1987).

In Lebanon, colleges offer upwards of 300 majors which lead to an even greater number of occupations. In addition, the country has emerged from 16 years of civil war which eradicated its economic infrastructure. Large-scale reconstruction work is currently in progress across the nation. Lebanese youth need to be channeled into fields that are vital to the economic and social rebirth of the country.

In the United States, efforts to provide career guidance have culminated in the Education Amendments of 1974 (Section 406, PL 93-380) which put on the map career services at the school level and granted it an official status. This federal law aimed at bridging the gap between school and society, and targeted skills, attitudes and knowledge "to enable persons to cope with accelerating change and obsolescences" (Herr, p. 20). Similar efforts are needed in Lebanon for the same aforementioned reasons.

What is career guidance and counseling?

Herr and Cramer (in Peterson et al, 1991) defined career guidance as "a systematic program of counselor-coordinated information and experiences designed to facilitate individual career development and, more specifically, career management (p. 161)." Herr and Cramer (1988) maintained that, although the terms career guidance and counseling have been used interchangeably, there exists a difference in their meaning. The authors considered career guidance a general term which encompasses a broad range of activities, including career counseling. The latter refers to "an interpersonal process focuses on assisting an individual to make appropriate career decision" (Herr & Cramer, p. 15)(1). Another term used interchangeably with career guidance and worth defining is career education. It refers to those experiences by which individuals become knowledgeable about and develop attitudes towards self and work, usually through academic activities infused into the curriculum (Herr & Cramer). …

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