How Surveys Can Jumpstart Career Conversations With Teens

Sometimes students don’t know the answers until they’re asked the right questions.

High schoolers take surveys to help start career conversations with students

Brought to you by The Student Research Foundation

Start meaningful conversations about students' future plans with the Student Research Foundation's National College & Career Pathways Survey. 

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“What are your plans after high school?” It’s the question teenagers dread. The future usually feels like a big mystery. Throw in the uncertainties of life after the pandemic, and you have a recipe for serious apprehension. CTE teachers, guidance counselors, and the rest of us want to help guide them. And we are thrilled to have discovered Student Research Foundation surveys, a perfect way to help start career conversations with students.

The Student Research Foundation studies how students are thinking about, and preparing for, their futures. Every year, they create a survey that not only helps them understand (and share with teachers!) the trends they’re seeing but also provides a jumping-off point for vital discussions. Here are some of the topics the SRF survey covers:

College preferences

Many students don’t look farther than the university their parents attended or the local state college. Sometimes, this narrow thinking often comes from not knowing about available options, and that’s where the SRF survey can help. The survey introduces types of colleges, from junior to private to technical. It also explores whether the student desires a religious college, how they will pay for education, and more. Answering these types of questions makes students begin to consider what kind of environment fits with who they are and what they want. This is exactly the kind of visualization that kickstarts healthy decision making.

Interests and goals

Students rarely encounter an abundance of career options all in one place. But that’s what they’ll see on the SRF survey. From robotics to economics to web design, it’s all there. Maybe they hadn’t considered “massage therapist” or “construction management” as a potential path. But after taking the survey, they will—and you can devote as much time as you want to discuss the appeal and the responsibilities of any career that catches their eye.

Red survey to start career conversations with students

College life

The journey isn’t over when the applications are filled out. It’s important for students to think ahead about what their world will look like post-high school. To this end, SRF has included a question about what students might see themselves involved in during college—from extreme sports to theatre to study abroad. Envisioning their campus involvement can help guide the selection process and set them up for a smooth adjustment to college life.

Global awareness

Thanks to technology, our world has grown smaller. We connect with others around the globe in real time, and many businesses boast teams spanning several continents. How do students today perceive their place in a worldwide community? How do they think about cultural differences and human rights? Do they feel connected to people in other countries? These are just a handful of topics the SRF survey will raise and that you can delve into with your students.

Online engagement

In many ways, the internet defines life as we know it, and it’s important to consider its impact on the future. How do students relate online? Do they merely consume entertainment, or do they use various platforms to advocate for change? Do they feel confident communicating about social or political issues online? These are questions worth discussing, and the SRF survey does just that.

We love the idea of using surveys to start career conversations with students. Allowing them to consider their answers independently before jumping into class discussion is a great way to ensure deeper consideration. Teachers can also participate in an educator survey, and participants in either survey will receive access to SRF’s fascinating research data and infographics—helpful in sparking even more conversations! Interested in learning more?

Yes! I Want to Learn More About SRF College & Career Surveys!

Posted by Joanna Breault

Joanna is an editor at WeAreTeachers. She has five kids, homeschooled them for a decade, and (out of an abundance of gratitude) loves working on resources for teachers. She also has a soft spot for long books, strong tea, and public radio.

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