So Many Choices (part III): 5 Ways Complete Advising Helps Students Choose a Major and Career

For almost two decades, I worked in college admissions where I witnessed students and families struggle to figure out career pathways. Some could narrow it down to a field- “I want to do something in medicine.” Others didn’t know where to start. As a result, students are entering college undecided, changing majors, and increasing the number of expensive credits they take to graduate.

At Complete College Advising (CCA), the goal is to guide clients in finding fulfilling careers by leveraging the Ikigai Diagram, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and O*net Interest Profiler. Let’s explore how these tools help students and families gain clarity and confidence they need (and saves them thousands of dollars in tuition, too).

First, I need to introduce the Japanese concept of Ikigai which gives us a great way to understand what we are trying to get out of a college degree:
-Profession
-Vocation
-Passion
-Mission

What is Ikigai?
Ikigai is a Japanese concept representing the intersection of four fundamental elements: what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. It can be translated as the reason for being or the source of one’s happiness and fulfillment in life. I describe this as finding your calling or purpose.


1. Guided Self-Reflection
CCA clients use the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS) to identify their personality traits and preferences and the O*net Interest Profiler (OIP) to identify their interests, skills, and values. We discuss how these new insights will lay the foundation for career exploration.

2. Brainstorming
Using a blank Ikigai Diagram and the career recommendations from the KTS and OIP tools, students (often with the help of their parents) brainstorm potential careers, seeking overlaps among passions, skills, values, and the world’s needs.
For example, under “what they love,” they can list activities or industries they are passionate about. Under “what they are good at,” they can list skills or subjects they excel in. Under “what the world needs,” they can identify societal issues they care about. And under “what they can be paid for,” they can think about job roles which match their skills and provide financial stability.
Then I encourage them to do further research and learn about the possibilities which exist where their passions, skills, values, and job opportunities intersect.

3. Research and Exploration
I work with students in conducting research and exploration of the career options they have identified. I encourage them to gather information about educational requirements, job prospects, and the day-to-day realities of each career path using resources such as career guides, online research, and informational interviews with professionals in those fields. Examples include helping students connect with judges, physician assistants and meteorologists. I’ve encouraged other students to explore medical professions and business through classes at their local career center and through taking health care or business curricula like that offered via HOSA, DECA and BPA.

4. High School Class Scheduling
As students explore potential careers, I help them to select high school courses which help them to refine their preferences. This includes AP, IB and dual enrollment options which earn college credits in their preferred major(s). For future engineers, AP Calculus BC is a great sneak peak of what it takes to get that degree and be successful in that career.

5. Encourage action
Finally, I motivate students to take action by setting goals and creating a plan to pursue their chosen career paths. I also emphasize that exploring and refining their options is an ongoing process, and they can always adjust their course if needed.

Starting this process early is critical for students and will prevent them from taking excess credits in college which ultimately delay their graduation and increase their costs. 

By using the Ikigai Diagram as a visual tool and guiding students through self-reflection, exploration, and decision-making, we help high school students gain valuable insights into their career options and find greater clarity and direction for their future.

Keep Reading:
So Many Choices (part IV): It’s Time to Have “The Talk” About Family Finances

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