Student Career Planning Conferences in Tulsa Middle and High Schools Help Students and Parents

By Newell, Jeanie | Techniques, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Student Career Planning Conferences in Tulsa Middle and High Schools Help Students and Parents


Newell, Jeanie, Techniques


Individualized Career Planning conferences at both the middle and high school levels are a catalyst for students to consider how academic interests and their other special talents can be directed into career choices.

Clinton Middle School and Webster High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have found a way to involve parents in their students' enrollment and career decision-making. Individual Career Planning Conferences are held for 8th graders and 10th graders. Parents are invited to join the counselor and student in completing the enrollment process for the next year. Parents also get firsthand information about the results of the career assessments given to students earlier in the year. The conferences have had a parent participation rate that ranges between 40% and 65% over the last five years.

Counselors have discovered that if parents participate in the decisionmaking process for selecting courses, students will choose a more rigorous curriculum. Many parents are not aware of graduation requirements, nor are they aware of what classes will benefit students in terms of career options. This is an opportunity for parents to learn about their child's career interests, and to become familiar with career assessments used by counselors and the career cluster concept.

At the Clinton Middle School conferences, 8th graders and their parents spend 20-30 minutes enrolling for the 9th grade year at Webster High School. School counselors, administrators, and the staff from Tulsa Public Schools help with the Individual Career Planning Conferences. The EXPLORE career assessment, given early in the 8th grade year, is reviewed and interpreted. During the conferences a portfolio is presented to the students. These portfolios are designed and printed by the Tulsa Public Schools Career and Technology Education Department in partnership with the Tulsa Tech Prep Consortium. A section of the portfolio serves as a template for students to chart a fouryear plan of high school studies. This plan of study includes graduation requirements, courses to prepare for postsecondary education and a record of extra curricular activities. Students are encouraged to keep examples of excellent work, awards, and school activities in the portfolio as a way to prepare for admission to postsecondary institutions and scholarships, as well as utilizing it for job interviews.

At these conferences, middle school parents are often surprised at their child's stated career preferences. For many families, this may be the first conversation about how to use student's interests and abilities when considering a career. Clinton Principal Laura Undernehr says, "Each student has individual time to talk about their career aspirations. The conferences help them understand how the courses they take now will prepare them for the future. …

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