In the discussion over for-profit colleges, a lot of attention has been paid to how well these institutions are preparing students for gainful employment. Some have focused on the high debt load that students take on, while others have focused on how well students are counseled on the degrees they choose.
It is the latter point that needs more scrutiny — at all colleges, for-profit or not. Not only is there little done to counsel students on the degrees they should pursue based on their career interests, but there is little done to counsel them on how to choose those careers. Many students arrive at college — and graduate — without any idea about what they want to do with their lives. When they begin their studies, most students are just starting to live their lives independently and have little experience and little understanding of what it is they want to do. They often choose majors for careers that they end up realizing that have no passion for, or they later pursue careers that have nothing to do with their majors. And many opt for malleable degrees such as English or Liberal Studies that can be applied to a wide variety of disciplines.
In order to make the college experience — and its resulting degree — more meaningful for its purpose, it would serve students well to make career counseling a central part of the academic planning process. Thought most schools already offer these services for students who seek them out, they are not made a critical component of the educational process. They should be.
For students who don’t have access to career counseling services at their college or university — such as those attending for-profit institutions — there are some other options.
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is one of the most commonly used tests to help you understand your basic personality type and what occupations it might be suited for best. There are 16 personality types identified by the test, with four different attributes: either extroverted or introverted, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving, and sensing or intuitive. For example, the description of an INFJ reads:
Seek meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and material possessions. Want to understand what motivates people and are insightful about others. Conscientious and committed to their firm values. Develop a clear vision about how best to serve the common good. Organized and decisive in implementing their vision.
These core personality traits can tell you about what kind of work will suit you best.
The Self-Directed Search is another test that assesses your basic interests to find out what kind of work will suit you. Test takers are asked a series of questions about what tasks interest them and how they would rate their specific skills. Then a personalized report is generated with personality analysis and career suggestions.
These tests can often be taken individually and online, but the Myers Briggs Type Indicator must be administered by a professional who can properly explain the results.
Professional career counseling
There are numerous career counseling services available both online and in your local area. Licensed social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists can often guide you through making career decisions and finding the best career to suit your interests and goals.
Many online services are also available.
CareerCounseling.com offer career assessment and career testing, career exploration, research, coaching, and guidance on preparing a resume and finding a job. There are also ads for jobs and services to post your resume with employers.
CareerPlanner.com offers career and personality testing, as well as counseling on resume writing and changing careers.
The Career Key offers services for students, parents, adults, school counselors and teachers, college, career development professionals, and potential licensees. There are numerous resources for testing, counseling, advice, strategies, and more.
The Center for Professional Development offers counseling for individuals, corporations and organizations, and those looking to continue their education or make a career change.
Also consider some of these self-help guides for career guidance:
What Color is Your Parachute? A classic book, updated.
The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success Great for job seekers of all kinds!