FROM THE FOUNDER | by David Neils
HERE ARE THREE broad questions that all students should be able to answer before they graduate. I’ve included key sub questions for each broad area. I would strongly recommend projects where the results are tangible and where they help meet clearly delineated goals. Avoid projects that simply expose students to, for example, a college campus—with the hope that they catch the “practical knowledge” virus. We need to move way beyond exposure activities. Our students need and deserve a lot more.
1. What are my interests and natural abilities?
1. What do others say about me? What am I good at?
2. What do I find “easy” to do?
3. Which activities do I enjoy most?
4. Which classes at school makes sense to me? Which ones are difficult?
2. What are the broad areas of our [insert local region here] economy that are connected to my interests and natural abilities? (Note: Most students have interests that are represented by multiple broad fields and literally scores of career titles within those fields. It’s critical that we help them explore these broad areas first and not allow a student to pick a career title as the first step in this process. The latter results in weak decision making.)
1. Who shares my interests?
2. Which fields are represented by professionals who share my interests?
3. What is happening on the leading edge of these fields?
4. Who is doing leading-edge work?
5. What would the leaders do differently if they were in my shoes?
6. What can I do right now to become an asset in the field I’m pursuing?
3. Where are the educational opportunities, beginning in [insert local region here], that will allow me to compete successfully as a professional?
1. What is the placement rate for the post-secondary program that I’m interested in?
2. How do I interview successful alumni from this post-secondary program?
3. What is the difference between having my own plan, versus asking my academic advisor what to do?
4. How do successful professionals rank the postsecondary program that I am interested in?
David Neils, founder and director of the International Telementor Program, has made it possible for more than 44,000 youth to receive academic mentoring support from hundreds of professionals representing a variety of fields. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org