Career planning and self assessment in the middle grades

Career Planning and Self Assessment in the Middle Grades: Laying the Groundwork

We spend a lot of time listening to parents of middle and high school students. All of them want to support – even propel – their kids toward success.

Parents know that if their kids can engage in some thinking and action in the earlier years, then when the time comes, they can make more confident and clear decisions about college and career. Career planning and self assessment in the middle grades (7, 8, & 9) lays the groundwork for a strong future.

“If our top priority is to adequately prepare young adults for postsecondary opportunities—college or career—our efforts must begin much earlier than in high school, and the middle grades are a high leverage point to focus those efforts.”A Step in the Right Direction: Career Exploration in Middle School

In 2014, we created a unique workshop called Heads Up!™ Equipping Students for What’s Next because we recognized the importance of the statement above. Our workshop focuses on self assessment and career investigation with the intent of helping students make confident decisions in high school and beyond.

Our Guided Self Assessment students (grades 10, 11, 12) told us they wished they’d had more help with self assessment and career thinking when they were younger—they inspired us to create Heads Up!™.

Career thinking for my 7th, 8th, or 9th grader? Well, yes!

Our experience is that these younger students WANT to think about their future. It’s certainly better to guide them in age-appropriate thinking together than to NOT engage at all.

What have we found over all the years we have done this workshop?

We’ve met hundreds of kiddos. This workshop is really a favorite of our founder, Beth Probst and holds a special spot in her heart! Why is that? And what should you know about it if you have a 7-9th grader?

  • We work with small groups of students, allowing them to be more relaxed.
  • The work students do in Heads Up!™ can help them make better decisions about high school scheduling and summer plans.
  • There can be true light bulb moments for this age…they never stop to think “what do I know about myself?”
  • We show them how and help them make some realizations about their strengths, interests, skills, values, traits, etc.
  • Students at this age are not exposed to much career variety – they know what their parents do (sort of), they know the jobs they can see (teacher, vet, lawyer), but they don’t know how to learn more.
  • Each workshop is two sessions — two hours each. Just enough time to be effective. Not TOO much of a time burden for a student this age!
  • Parents are included! (After all…can we depend on our middle schooler to tell us about their day?!) The second workshop session includes both parents and students and uses the work students have done during the first session.
  • It is such a great value – less than $190 for a four-hour, small group class.
  • We keep it fun and age-appropriate!
  • No pressure, lots of different kinds of activities (small group, individual, whole class) to keep the kids involved & to appeal to different types of learners.

We are proud of this workshop and how it reaches an under-served age group.

What some past students and parents had to say:

“I will remember the things that I learned about myself that just kind of go over your head until you stop and think about them.”

“This will help in my career path and distinguishing possible career choices and eliminating others.”

I will remember “…how you made us discover who we were. I thought it was funny and useful.”

“At The Core was a wonderful experience for my 8th grade twins. They attended the two day Heads Up workshops and for the first time, were able to self-identify their strengths, their areas of passion and understand how important these things are while planning a high school and college career.”

We invite you to learn more about Heads Up!™ Because it is so unique, and you may have questions, feel free to drop us an email or give us a call (614) 404-0646.

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