Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS) was generous enough to send me a couple of different products to review. I'm going to be making three separate posts about them. The products I received included two semester long writing programs, a Greek and Latin roots program, and the subject of this post: The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.
Connor has been really interested lately in figuring out a plan for high school, and for college. His first reaction to this product was "I don't have to figure out a career, do I?" But he was interested in the high school and college part, so we dug in.
After reading the introductory materials (which you can get in the free download -- the first 17 of some 250 pages is available on the website), he changed his tune. He wanted to do the career assessment part too. There is a nice plan laid out (also in the first 17 pages) as far as steps to take. We started at the top, and started working through the list.
The first assessment is a work/service preference survey. Connor came out with a tie -- both a Builder and a Solver. He & I talked about that, and figured the survey pegged him completely. After that, there are three more surveys -- one has to do with how you learn (that didn't really tell us much -- his scores were very close together), one is a personality assessment, and the last one analyzes the type of environment in which you like to work.
After taking these assessments (an hour or so for all of them), you are to look over the suggested careers/majors associated with your results, and to select two that interest you from each assessment. Connor had a really tough time narrowing it down to two on some of the lists! His group of "interesting careers" ended up consisting of a lot of computer related ones (computer science, computer engineer, software developer), or biology-ish types (biologist, geneticist, medical lab technologist) and a couple oddballs (carpenter, journalism).
You go on to look over some other lists of careers and majors, just to see if any other things jump out at you. Yeah, some interesting things were added in this step (FBI Agent, Nuclear Scientist, Robotics Technician). Eventually, through a fairly clearcut process, you end up with a manageable list. From there, you can look up the college majors that relate to those careers.
Then it gets really fun... making a plan. At this point, Connor being only 12, we certainly aren't trying to get things narrowed down too exclusively. But having a basic plan relating to these careers is fantastic. Writing out career goals was a bit of a challenge, but a good exercise. One of his plans is to be sure to pursue the related merit badges for everything that he ended up with on his initial "interesting career" list, even those that didn't make the "final cut." That wasn't exactly something suggested in the materials, but it certainly seemed to fit (yikes, now how to find a merit badge counselor for Nuclear Science!?!)
(Then something fun happened. Fingerprinting and Crime Prevention merit badges made the list. I was on our BSA website the next morning trying to figure out when and where a training session was happening, see here, and I saw one of the troops in town is doing a Merit Badge College. One of the choices: Fingerprinting/Crime Prevention. And the date even works for him.)
Finishing off the career planning section was the perfect introduction to the high school planning pages. You know, with such fun and exciting challenges as how to fit 15 science courses into the next six years... We did adapt some of the pages in this book in order to create plans for 7th and 8th grade too.
The high school planning section mostly involved looking over generally required high school courses, courses recommended for the majors he identified above, thinking about volunteer opportunities and activities to be involved in, and considering earning college credit through dual enrollment or CLEP or whatever. He was guided through the process step by step, and it wasn't as difficult as we both feared.
The end result? Connor has a nice little packet, about a dozen pages, that outlines the path he thinks he wants to be on right now as he navigates junior and senior high school, college, and beyond.
Overall, I was very, very impressed. I wasn't sure about this whole idea as "career planning" just sounds like such a big thing for a 12 year old to be doing! But this book breaks it down into manageable pieces, and it is chock-full of fantastic lists and charts and just amazing details. And far, far more valuable than any of the career planning junk I was forced to do in high school!
I really appreciated the values presented, particularly the reminder that prayer is the best place to start. They also have advice for boys, such as the idea that they need to consider each career in light of what this would mean for their ability to be a spiritual leader in their home. Their advice to girls does not either assume girls are supposed to have a full-time career, nor does it assume girls are not supposed to be prepared for a career.
Okay, for the negatives. EDUDPS has had issues with people violating their copyrights, and therefore they have been hesitant to put out ebooks. Currently, they are doing so, using File Secure Pro to help keep their intellectual property secure. File Secure Pro will only operate in a Windows environment, so I could not put this on my primary computer (a Mac). Also, the license only allows you to print it twice... basically meaning you need to print out the whole document. That's 250 pages, many of which I would have preferred to just read on the computer. And, since I don't have a printer that will automatically print on both sides of the page, it is difficult to conserve paper in that way.
I am allowed to photocopy the pages for use in my family, but that is a bit of a hassle. We worked through the assessments using a notebook, and only copied the dozen or so pages at the back -- the summation and plan forms. I plan to copy the pages for the individual careers that Connor identified as well, but I haven't gotten there yet.
The book is available in hard copy though, in addition to being available in ebook format. The ebook currently is on sale for $26, and the physical book is available for $40.
I would recommend this to parents (homeschooling or not) with kids who are jr. high age or older. The kids on the younger end of that may not want to tackle the career planning part just yet, but the high school materials are good on their own too. And you can reuse this with the younger siblings, or take it and go through it yourself -- it is good for adults also!