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    Tools for Planning Your Career Before College

    Posted May 8, 2014, 4:00 pm by Suzanne Shaffer
    Tools for Planning Your Career Before College

    It’s a fact that a large number of students graduate from college with degrees that don’t prepare them for the job market. News headlines are riddled with stories of recent graduates finding it impossible to land a job with the degree they chose, being forced to take any job to pay back their student loans. Additionally, many students graduate with degrees in areas that don’t interest them simply because they thought the degree would fare well in the marketplace, only to become dissatisfied with their career paths.

    Investigate Careers Before Choosing a Major

    To be well-informed and prepared for a future job, students should investigate careers before choosing a college major. In the past, students used traditional approaches to career matching, which included following their parents’ interests and following the money (the career with a high-paying salary). While any form of research is certainly helpful, it’s hard to know which career best suits you without doing some in-depth testing and career matching. Granted, not all matching is infallible, but you owe it to yourself to do the research before committing to a career path.

    The following are a websites that can help with your search:

    My Career Match

    This is a paid matching service promising to help you “discover your perfect career.” After paying $19.95, the matching tool will help you make the best decisions about your career and education. They promise to help you:

    • Decide on a focus for your future
    • Connect who you are with what you love to do
    • Understand yourself and what motivates you to succeed
    • Match your natural strengths and talents to jobs that suit
    • Write a winning resume

    A personalized career report will include information about how to choose the right career, with a personality analysis and summary of your strengths and talents. The report will list over 50 jobs that match these abilities with a link to a website to help you research each job listed.

    MAPP Career Test

    The 15-Minute MAPP Career Test comprises 71 different triads, or three statements. You choose which one you would most prefer or least prefer, with one left blank. With so many different combinations, the test produces more than a trillion different test results.

    According to MAPP:

    Most career tests simply give you insights into your personality. The MAPP test also offers students new insights into what they’re naturally drawn toward and how they can develop this into a satisfying career.

    The real power of the MAPP career test is the fact that it gives students a vision for what their future career could be: for instance, doctor, lawyer or software developer. These are just three of the 900 jobs that are sorted in order of the student’s unique test results after they take the online career test.

    The MAPP assessment has undergone extensive validity and reliability testing by a number of psychologists, including correlating the results to the Strong Interest Inventory®. Validity and reliability studies also indicate that the MAPP test is consistent over time.

    After completing the free test, you can see your results immediately. For a more in-depth report, MAPP packages start at $89.95. Your personal test results are scored against 900 jobs, and you can see what jobs are the best fit, along with the education needed, career outlook and real job openings in your area.

    Career Ship

    The College Board created this free tool to help students match their interests to specific college majors and career paths. You begin by selecting an area (clearly described) that appeals to you the most: realistic, investigative, enterprising, social, conventional, and artistic. After choosing your area of interest, the site provides a list of careers that match these interests with clickable links to each for more detailed information and salary projections.

    Even though this is a broad view of careers that might interest you, it’s a good place to begin. The career descriptions are extremely detailed and also suggest other careers related to each area of interest. You can also view careers by cluster or search for a specific career by name.


    Users identify careers by taking the unique interest assessment, then exploring extensive Career Profiles. Through these profiles they connect to related colleges and companies. At the same time, these colleges and companies reach a targeted audience in a brand-safe environment with a combination of data, video, and social media.

    Along with the assessment, the site captures and saves career interests accessible on a unique dashboard (My Desk) for future reference. You can watch interviews with actual professionals in each career interest.

    The data is collected from two US Government sources, the Occupational Network (ONet) and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The college and degree relationships are derrived from the National Center for Education Statistics from the Institute of Educational Sciences. The Interest Quiz is based on the Holland Code Methodology.

    My Road

    For Students who have taken the PSAT/NMSQT, the College Board provides a free Personality Assessment through the student’s My College QuickStart: My Road. This assessment helps to identify:

    1. Which careers are a good fit for you.
    2. Which majors and colleges you should consider based upon those potential careers.
    3. Helps make choosing a college, major or career path much easier.

    The ORA Personality Profiler helps students learn about their personality types and receive a profile that describes their strengths, learning preferences, motivations, and development opportunities. Once you complete the profile, you will receive suggestions for majors and careers that are compatible with your type.

    If you didn’t take the PSAT, there is also a one year $19.95 subscription fee available.

    To take a quick tour of the program and see how it works, follow this link: My Road Quick Tour.

    Start Before College

    It makes sense to do some career matching before deciding on a college major. Too many students head off to college without a single clue of which career interests them. A degree should be more than just a degree. It should encompass an education geared toward your interests that will result in a fulfilling and rewarding career. To ensure that you get this type of degree, do some personality testing and career matching.

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    Suzanne Shaffer

    Suzanne Shaffer

    Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parenting for College blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.