Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review: ACT, Advantage -- Discover Career Planning

When I applied for a spot on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I never imagined what a workout my oldest was going to get as far as planning for the future.  He's done high school, college and career planning.  He's done SAT prep.  And now, thanks to Act, Advantage, he is doing more career planning, and preparing for the ACT.  This review is about Discover Career Planning, an online career planning site that is subscription based.

You start out by taking 2-3 assessments, depending on your age.  I'm sure it will be no shock to any of my regular readers to learn what Discover recommended for career areas for my oldest son.
  • Construction and Maintenance
  • Crafts and related
  • Manufacturing and Processing
  • Mechanical and Electrical Specialties
  • Engineering and Technologies
  • Natural Science and Technologies
Well, okay, the Crafts and related category stumped me.  But the other five all work for him.  The last three are the best fits.

After you finish the inventories, they suggest you explore specific careers in those areas.  Connor had a ball investigating careers such as:
  • Building Inspector
  • Woodworker
  • Medical Equipment Technician
  • Computer Engineer
  • Molecular Biologist
He had the most fun exploring careers in the Natural Science area.  He has a whole list of careers that he thought sounded like a good fit for him there.  There are pages upon pages of great information available for each of the careers.  For Forensic Science, for instance, he learned:
  • that he'd really need to get a master's degree, at least
  • that for high school he should get a solid college prep program, including physics, chemistry, trigonometry, calculus and technical writing
  • that the salary range is roughly $40-60K
  • that he'd be working with lots of specialized equipment
  • that he does really need to work on his writing skills, as his reports would need to stand up in court
  • that the FBI Forensic Science Research and Training Center sounds incredibly cool
  • that some forensic scientists don't like the long, irregular hours, being exposed to health and safety hazards, or the constant pressure for accuracy
  • that there are two forensic science organizations located in places he can easily get to (one is local, one is very close to Grandma's house)
He was able to print off a stack of information about a variety of careers.  From the above sample, you can see that they do cover a variety of information.

What has been wonderfully fun about having this subscription is that we are able to research all kinds of careers really easily.  For scouts, many of the merit badges require the kids to investigate careers in a certain field.  We have used this site to investigate careers in art, in environmental science, in cooking, in engineering, and I'm probably missing some others.

We have loved having this subscription.  The information is logically presented, and it is easy to explore job options that are available with varying levels of education.

A 3 month subscription to Discover costs $20, or you can get 6 months for $25.  This also includes a High School Curriculum Guide, which looks fantastic.  And 260 pages!  We didn't really use it (yet) though, as Connor was cruising along just exploring the website.  I did find many of the suggestions in there to be great though.  Definitely geared to the classroom, but pretty easy to adapt.  There are some fantastic activities included.  Some of my favorites included a career family tree, an exercise to compare and contrast careers, and the high school planning ideas.

What I would like to do in the future with this is to purchase a subscription at least once for each of my children.  Sometime in junior high, probably 8th grade.  Have them work through the inventories, and follow up on the career areas mentioned, and use the Curriculum Guide to help formulate a plan for high school.  I may consider purchasing a subscription again when they are nearing the end of their junior year, or otherwise starting to get fairly serious about "what next?" in their journey.

I think this product is well worth the money.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about various ACT products at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a free subscription to Discover Career Planning from the ACT Advantage.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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