Karen Lomas
August 14, 2018

Career Coaching from Year 9

Career coaching from year 9 at secondary school, is highly beneficial. This is according to Dr Jordan Bell, Psychologist and Dean of Lincoln College, Adelaide. On the other hand, if the career coaching is of poor quality, particularly regarding subject choices in year 10, this has been found to have a very negative effect upon student outcomes.

I recently attended a Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA) presentation by Dr Bell, covering the factors that support student transition. Dr Bell  has been working with university students at Lincoln College for 10 years. These students transition from secondary education often to study in a new city, far from their home family support networks.

Many students reported that they received no careers support in school. As a result, some tertiary students have not found the transition at all easy and reported a number of issues:

  • That the university itself was not the right fit – for example, that parental or societal pressure led them to a high-prestige institution
  • That the path they’re on, their chosen course, is not suited to them – for example, they chose a highly academic course when a vocational course may have been a better fit
  • That they felt ill-prepared for the transition to higher education – the benefits of a gap year were discussed

What students reported in Australian research is that career coaching can be helpful when it involves:

  • meeting one-on-one with a career coach
  • participating in a Work Experience Program
  • early commencement of career coaching – from year 9, or earlier
  • sound subject selection guidance

In the absence of the above the impact is reportedly highly negative, whereas there is evidence from the research that good career coaching support actually boosts the students’ interest in subjects.

Career coaching seldom begins sufficiently early, despite Education Department recommendations for career education to commence from the beginning of secondary school. In fact, many schools are now abandoning their Work Experience Program, in year 10, because of the administration required. This is a worrying trend.

When career coaching is not on-going, from as early as year 9, or before, students often find themselves in the wrong environment, poorly prepared for the transition to university and/or studying a course for which they are not best suited. This is then reflected in the completion rates, which currently sit at 74% nationally, in Australia.

I have students coming to me from year 8. Their parents are aware of the importance of progressive career coaching support and recognise that conversations about: values and personality preferences; dreams and attributes; hobbies and favourite holidays etc, are good fun. This allows their child to experience interaction with another adult than a family member, or teacher. They learn about being careful with social media/self-presentation, how to organise their time to manage their homework commitments, and how they might go about getting their first part-time job. These students are well prepared and learn to ask for help early on.

Career coaching from as early as year 9 is, according to research, proving to give students an advantage, so that they learn how to make the best choices of course and tertiary institution. If you would like to find out more about the first step in career coaching for secondary school age students, please contact me at [email protected]










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