Coming Full Circle: Reoccurring Career Development Trends in Schools

By Schenck, Paulette M.; Anctil, Tina M. et al. | Career Development Quarterly, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Coming Full Circle: Reoccurring Career Development Trends in Schools


Schenck, Paulette M., Anctil, Tina M., Smith, Carol Klose, Dahir, Carol, Career Development Quarterly


Current state and national mandates focusing on academic achievement have drawn critical counseling resources away from career development. As the world of work radically changes and economic situations remain uncertain, the call for a return to school counseling roots based in career guidance has never been louder. The authors explore reoccurring career guidance trends throughout the history of school counseling to expand awareness of the basis of today's career and technical education discussions and increase understanding of the interconnectedness of career guidance and counseling and educational reform.

Keywords: career counseling, career development, career guidance, school counseling

Once again, school counseling is at a crossroads of providing effective interventions to facilitate students' career development, while simultaneously responding to other professional demands. Despite the fact that career development is interwoven and interconnected with human and personal development (Erford, 2003; Vondracek & Porfeli, 2002) and at a time of critical employment challenges because of globalization and economic uncertainty, today's school counselors often find it increasingly difficult to offer their ideal level and amount of career guidance and counseling to their students (Anctil, Smith, Schenck, & Dahir, 2012; Osborn & Baggeriy, 2004).

Recent state and federal mandates for standardized testing, most notably the No Child Left Behind Act (2001), have affected school counselors' ability to provide career counseling in multiple ways. Limited counseling resources, especially time, have been diverted to coordinating testing and other noncounseling functions, thus reducing availability for other counseling programs (Lewis, 2005). In addition, heightened academic accountability for classroom teachers has limited counselors' access to students, both for classroom guidance and for pulling students out of classes for individual or group career counseling (Zunker, 2006). At the same time, teachers, traditional partners in providing classroom career guidance, "may feel career education activities are yet one more thing added to their workload" (Andersen & Vandehey, 2006, p.291), which may lessen their willingness to teach a career guidance curriculum.

Yet, in these challenging times, "school counselors' responsibilities to students have never been more necessary. Preparing students for meaningfiul career and life roles has increased in importance" (Feller, 2003b, p. ii). Two recent reports clearly highlighted the need for career guidance in today's schools. In A Blueprintfor Reform (U.S. Department of Education, 2010), President Obama put forth his educational initiative for every student to "graduate from high school ready for college and a career, regardless of their income, race, ethnic or language background, or disability status" (p. 3). Yet, Can I Get a Little Advice Here? (Johnson, Rochkind, Ott, & DuPont, 2010) paints a different picture of the current status of career guidance in schools. In the study, the majority of 600 young adults surveyed rated their high school counselors as fair to poor in preparing them for careers or postsecondary education, a score even lower than their rating of helpfulness from teachers. This resulted in students either delaying entry into or making uninformed choices regarding postsecondary education and career selection. Beyond the implications to students' career futures, this identified deficit affects the profession of school counseling itself; because "school counselors risk becoming irrelevant when they fail to bridge the gap between present student outcomes and future employment needs" (Daggett, 2003, p. 238).

In this article, we explore reoccurring career guidance trends throughout the history of school counseling to expand awareness of the basis of today's career and technical education discussions and increase understanding of the interconnectedness of career guidance and counseling and educational reform. …

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