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The Undecided Student

The Undecided Student

What do you do with an undecided homeschool student?

Many use the terms work, job, career, and vocation interchangeably. While it’s true that each involves working and a wage, having a career and vocation means more than just a paycheck. They describe a type of work where your passion, purpose, skills, and the marketplace collide. In the words of theologian Frederick Buechner, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”

While some students seem destined for a particular vocation at an early age, it is common for today’s students to near high school graduation without a plan. Parents can encourage informed early-career-direction decisions. It starts with helping teens identify who God made them be, supporting them as they explore occupations, and finally, helping them develop goals and create an action plan. By partnering with and encouraging them in this important decision, they can graduate high school with a vision for their future.

Help an Undecided Student Build Identity

Nothing is more foundational than being rooted in Christ. Assisting teens in forging strong, positive identities is one way to help them form true convictions and stand firm in them regardless of what everyone else does. Google “Who I am in Christ.” Print and review as a family. Emphasize that work is part of God’s plan and that He designed them for a purpose.

Be generous with your praise, affirming skills, and natural abilities you have observed.

Ask questions that help identify likes and dislikes and what is important: What kinds of interactions energize you or drain ​​you? Do you like to work with facts and data, or prefer people-oriented activities? Are your decisions objective and logic-based, or are your decisions based on how they may impact others? Do you like to discuss your ideas, or do you prefer time alone to make decisions?

Encourage busy teens to enjoy downtime, strengthening their creativity and problem-solving skills. Schedule time to pursue hobbies and to invest in electives, sports, and other team activities that build skills and reveal interests.

Explore Career Options for the Undecided Homeschool Student

A better motto than “You can be anything you want to be” is “Be all you can be!

Researching careers online will help teens better understand occupational profiles that match their interests and personalities. Set a goal for how many careers to research. Information should include primary duties, the education or skills needed for working in that field, the work environment, and the median wage. Discuss the findings. Check out CareerOneStop.org.

Utilizing a career assessment tool at age 16 may further identify vocations that match God-given interests. Informal assessments are readily available on the web.

These are self-interpreted and can lack reliability, so they are best used to generate discussion. Fee-based or formal assessments are more comprehensive and statistically validated. A trained career counselor can interpret the results to identify best-fit careers and college options. Look for a comprehensive assessment that covers the four components of vocational design: personality, interests, skills and abilities, and values. Check out CareerDirect.org.

Good Career Planning

Good career planning includes building curiosity and excitement toward participating in the marketplace. Use your networks to introduce people in occupations that interest them and match their vocational design. Thinking about a career sector rather than a specific occupation will generate a bigger list of options that match their interests. Encourage them to prepare a list of questions by Googling “informational interview.” Practice interview skills to improve their confidence level.

Take advantage of the flexible schedule of homeschooling. Facilitate opportunities to learn outside of the classroom through part-time work, volunteering, and job shadowing. This will help confirm interests and build a resume with skills that employers value.

(Do you need more great career ideas? Check out our posts on Career Readiness & Career Exploration.)

Set Goals and Take Action with Your Undecided Student

By integrating the gathered information and identifying the education, training, and skills needed for the career sectors, plans and goals can be determined. Don’t worry about choosing one specific occupation at this stage. Goals can be categorized into five pathways: four-year STEM-related college degree; four-year liberal arts college degree; two-year vocational degree or certificate; apprenticeship training, military, or workforce; and gap year or travel.

Teens with a healthy and productive level of parental guidance and support have a much better chance of making good college and career choices. Here are some questions: Which post-secondary institutions offer the programs needed? What is the cost for completion? How will it be funded? Can affordable or free college credits be earned in high school? What are the prerequisites or admission requirements? What courses should be completed during high school? Besides education, what experiences or skills would be valued? Together, you can develop a plan for high school, aligning them to support post-graduation goals.

Many students are more motivated when they have a defined purpose and set personal goals. Those who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve them. Work to break down their goals into specific, manageable tasks with timelines for completion. Change is constant, so capitalize on preparations for success after high school, no matter their choice.

Need Additional Help?

Need help preparing your student for their career path?  Check out our Academic Advising Program at True North Homeschool Academy.

©2019 Cheri Frame

Cheri Frame is a homeschool parent of three graduates, a certified Career Direct® Consultant, and the author of Credits Before College: A Comprehensive High School to Graduation Guide. She advises parents and students on how to earn affordable college credits in high school, choose a career, and graduate college debt free. Cheri and her husband live in suburban Minneapolis.

Typical Course of Study: High School

Typical Course of Study: High School

As the world of Homeschooling has expanded and options have increased and become more focused, it’s a great time to be homeschooling.

Frankly, the options for High School Homeschooling are better than ever! As the world of homeschooling has expanded and the unknowns of the next school year loom, parents of high schoolers are wondering how to plan for what’s ahead. A basic understanding of a typical course of study can be a simple and helpful guide to planning the future, even when that future seems uncertain!

Focus on the Core 4 in High School

You should focus on the Core 4 high school subjects and then add electives and extra-curricular ones.
Some of this will depend on what type of transcript you are creating and where your students plan to land after high school. Vocational programs, college or university, ivy league or conservatory, or the Military all warrant focusing on different aspects of your student’s learning program.

I will link to classes we offer here at True North Homeschool Academy since we try to create classes with a typical course of study plan for each age group. Still, you should choose the curriculum or classes that work best for your family. It’s always awesome if you decide that means our online classes, but we want this blog article to help you make an amazing transcript for your high schooler, even if TNHA classes don’t fit your plan.

Typical Course of Study: High School

Let’s start by looking at high school as a four-year program. This will give us a long-view approach and help us determine what classes make sense within our subject areas. I’ll list each subject and then a common 4-year course of study. You are going to want to focus on the Core Four and go from there:

English– 9th-grade Literature & Composition, World Lit & Comp, U.S. Lit & Composition, British Lit, and Composition

(English can also include spelling, vocabulary, short story, novel writing, Speech and Rhetoric, Poetry,  etc.).

Math – Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Personal Finance

SciencePhysical Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy & Physiology or other advanced Science

History World Geography, World History, U.S. History, Government & Economics

(History can also include other areas or times of History like Ancient History)

Once you plan these, filling in with electives and extracurricular activities will be much easier.

 

Typical Course of Study: High School – Electives and Extra-curriculars

Foreign Language– this can be any Ancient or Modern Language. Keep in mind that Latin is a fantastic foundation for grammar and learning how to learn a Foreign Language, and Critical Languages are a great way to earn Scholarship Dollars; French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Chinese, Latin

Physical Education – ½ credit each year. Check out our amazing Dance at the Movies for a fun credit of P.E!

Music – a general overview of music, including Music Theory, Voice, Songwriting, or instrument lessons- also counts. Check out our Music at the Movies for a fascinating look at the power of music in culture!

Art/Humanities – a general understanding of Form and Color, Photography, Photoshop, etc.

Bible/Apologetics Studies – should include a general overview of the Old and New Testament, Church History, and Apologetics. Every educated person was expected to have a general understanding of the Bible and could easily reference books and passages. Take time to read and discuss the Bible together and memorize Scripture. Awanas and the Bible Bee are excellent programs to commit the Bible to memory.

Basic Computer Information Systems – Powerpoint, Video Editing, Internet Safety, and Accountability.

Health – should include general health information, introduction to addictions, cybersecurity and addictions, ages and stages, and reproductive health.

Vocational & Career Interests, including Entrepreneurship – in today’s quickly changing market and the gig economy they will inevitably be a part of, your students need to explore Vocational and Career Options as Life Skills and Personal Finance.

Typical Course of Study electives can vary and be wildly diverse. Think about students’ areas of interest and what’s available to them. Many students delve deeply into a subject area that piques their interest, like art, drama, music, electronics, etc. And don’t forget to provide a robust reading list for your high school students, including short stories, novels, plays, and poems.

High School is also a time to explore new areas of interest so take some time to seek out and expose your student to activities and unique experiences.

Include Community Service in Your Homeschool

A typical course of study for your high school should also include Community Service– I would recommend 15 hours a year or more. It’s tricky with Covid, but you can always write letters to service men and women and collect coats or food for the local coat drive or food pantry. You might have to get creative, but high schoolers typically are creative.

Please teach your students about internet safety and how to protect themselves from addictions, pornography, and perpetrators. Teach them how to manage social media and how to be accountable. Getting snared in addiction at a young age can have devastating implications for them. I highly recommend Glow Kids for every parent and young adult.

Testing Options and More

ACT Test Prep can save you thousands of dollars in Scholarship earned, National Latin Exam looks great on a transcript, and our Performance Series test is a straightforward way to assess where your student is at and helps them gain confidence with standardized tests.

Want to know more about credits, transcripts, and standardized tests to ensure your high school student is getting a typical course of study? Survive Homeschooling High School is a comprehensive eBook that will walk you through how to plan and prepare for high school. Suppose you have a good handle on your high school plan but want help with the logistics of a transcript or assigning credits. In that case, you may want to check out our Academic Advising- we offer Academic Advising, SPED Advising for nontraditional learners, and NCAA Advising for those looking to compete for an NCAA position.

It’s a great time to homeschool, and the options for High School Homeschooling are better than ever! Check out our live online dynamic, interactive classes taught within an international community by world-class teachers! Students interact and work together- we believe excellent education occurs within a community!

Money Saving Bundles

And, in case you didn’t know, we offer Bundles for terrific savings.

We hope you have found our quick guide to a typical course of study for high school helpful. We invite you to join our Facebook group to let us know and to chat with other homeschool parents about credits, transcripts, curriculum, and everything homeschool.

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5 Reasons to Study Spanish!

5 Reasons to Study Spanish!

Have you ever considered teaching your child a foreign language?  It’s a dilemma many homeschool parents face.  When you start, what curriculum to use, and why do our students need to learn a foreign language anyway?  At True North Homeschool Academy, we believe that learning a foreign language has many benefits.  See just a few of them below.

Why learn Spanish? Here are 5 Compelling Reasons.

1) There are currently 20 million people studying Spanish right now!

Of all the foreign languages to study, Spanish might be the most popular, and for a good reason. There are approximately 437- 527 million Spanish Speakers worldwide, depending on which list you look at, but it’s definitely in the top 5 languages spoken worldwide.

2) Spanish is also spoken and understood by over 52 million people in the United States.

But buckle up because that number is going to grow! By 2060, the Latino population of the U.S. will reach close to 130 million, making it the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, overtaking Mexico, and increasing the Spanish language’s global standing.

3).  Spanish, as a language, has a bright future.

With Spanish speakers on the rise, not only in the U.S., It is currently ranked as the second most important language for British citizens to learn.

4).  Spanish will increase your employability.

The Spanish market is a huge demographic for companies to target. Currently, the Latin American market has a 1.5 trillion dollar purchasing power (according to Forbes), making Spanish-speaking employees more valuable than ever to employees as they tap into this profitable market.

5) Understanding Spanish will allow you more opportunities.

These opportunities may come as the chase to travel, work, or study abroad with a richer experience.  Speaking Spanish will also open up an entire entertainment world, with Spanish You-Tubes, television, and movies produced in Spanish.

Why learn a foreign language? For the health and brain benefits, of course!

  1. Learning a foreign language can stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s! Mono-lingual adults showed signs of cognitive decline up to 3 years earlier than bilingual adults.
  2. Bilingual children score higher on problem-solving than monolingual kids. Learning a new language can improve overall cognitive functioning, including how second-semester you are. In other words, bi-lingual people are better able to observe and understand their surroundings, as well as edit out distractions. Bi-lingual people are better able to spot misleading information. Isn’t it interesting that Sherlock Holms, Lord Peter Wimsey (great fictional detectives), and their creators, Sir Conan Doyle and Dorothy Sayers, were bi or multi-lingual?
  3. Learning a foreign language enhances your understanding of your mother tongue.   Learning a second language causes a student to look carefully at sentence structure, grammatical functions, and the nuances of vocabulary. A fun aspect of Spanish is that it’s a derivative of Latin. Latin words significantly influence English. You probably know some Spanish and Latin vocabulary already!
  4. Learning a second language enhances memory and vocabulary.  These benefits allow students to score better on standardized tests!
  5. Learning a second language is good, clean fun! Kids naturally love to talk and write in codes, and a foreign language is just that. A terrific code to decipher for young minds eager to learn and develop! The early your child learns a second language, the more confident and adept they will be at learning multiple languages!

So are you convinced that your child needs to learn Spanish but not quite sure where to start?

If you are looking for a great second-semester memory-enhancing, code-deciphering, FUN class, check our Spanish for Children or Beginning Latin! Classes meet live online each week with a passionate, invested multi-lingual speaker.

Looking for a self-paced option? We have Self Paced Spanish!

(Wondering if live, online homeschool courses are right for you?  Check out the reasons we love live classes!)

Why Use Homeschool Academic Advising?

Why Use Homeschool Academic Advising?

Why do you need homeschool academic advising?

As homeschooling parents, we are called upon to choose curriculum, teach the kids, keep track of credits and graduation requirements and guide our kids to a successful launch. We are the school board, administration, academic advisor, and teacher, all rolled into one.

It can be difficult to do all of that on one’s own. I’ve heard several times on homeschool forums and message boards kids state that their parents didn’t help them navigate college or career, and they came out just fine.

And while I do believe that resiliency and grit are often overlooked and possibly under-expected, I caution parents against leaving their kids to figure it out on their own for two compelling reasons.

Compelling Reasons to Use Homeschool Academic Advising

Time and Money

The average student in America is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 6 years instead of 4 with $37,000 in debt. Couple that with the fact that only about half of all students who enter college complete it, and you could have a very expensive recipe for disaster.

Using Homeschool Academic Advising to Hack Homeschool Success

The savvy homeschooler will view homeschooling high school as the opportunity for two things:

  • Time to explore new opportunities and options
  • Time to prepare for a successful post-homeschool launch

I think about academics when I put together our homeschool for each school year. Including considering extra-curricular, camps, internships, sports, clubs, and other possibilities. I am thinking about how my kids develop and grow in unique areas (developing their “otherliness”). What about knowing how to develop their professionalism in specific areas of interest? What kind of personality skills or traits do they need shoring up on, or natural areas of ability that can be further developed?

Why Hire Someone When You Can DIY Homeschool Academic Advising?

So, what does this have to do with Homeschool Academic Advising? Many, if not most, homeschooling parents short-change the high school years. They under-credit what they have done. And they don’t know where to invest time and energy based on students’ interests or callings. Primarily because they are worried about what a transcript “should” look like.  They tend to forget to think about things like camps, awards, sports, roles, responsibilities, and community service.

That’s where a seasoned Academic Advisor is helpful.

I see the credits you overlook because it’s your normal. For example, I recently worked with a high school student who flunked most of last year’s courses.

After digging a bit deeper, I discovered that he had extensive camping and fishing experience – like he provides fresh fish yearly for more than one family. He has hundreds of hours of Community Service (mowing and plowing his grandma and neighbor’s driveways and walkways). Works full-time laying fiber optic cable (because he has such an amazing work ethic and is a responsible worker). And has re-built a diesel engine for the truck he bought with cash he’d earned watching YouTube videos.

Along with identifying a processing disorder and getting him the academic help he needed, I created a transcript for him. The transcript reflected the hard-working, high PIQ (Performance IQ), kind and generous young man he was. Additionally, we could lay out a doable plan that will get him the professional certification he needs in life to earn the kind of money he should, given his abilities, despite academic struggles.

Similarly, I worked with a family who had a student hoping to graduate from college while still in their teens. This student has the intellectual capability of doing just that, but he is also very interested in going into the art field, and doing creative, freelance work. His Personalized Learning Plan included CLEP and Dual Enrollment classes.  These classes were coupled with developing an online presence, attending professional conferences, developing his artistic abilities, and going to graduate school in a location that would allow him to create the best connections possible.

Story Telling and the Art of High School & Career Counseling as Part of Homeschool Academic Advising

Here’s the deal. At heart, I’m a writer, a teller of stories. I love listening to people, hearing their hearts, and learning about the story they’ve lived so far and the story that God is writing. From there, it’s easy to create an Action Plan that makes sense, to resource the students and parents with camps, classes, competitions, books, and ideas to make the story they are living be cost and time effective and lead to success.

Whether You Have a Fast-Burner or a Struggling Learner, Homeschool Academic Advising Can Help!

Whether your student is on a fast track or struggling just to keep going, we can help. We have worked with homeschooled students worldwide, from profoundly gifted to disabled.

Along the way, we’ve mentored everyone from Olympic hopefuls to kids who use P.T. for PE credit. We have helped kids go on to Internships, the military, community college, State and Christian colleges, and Ivy League schools. Every student has a story, and we would be honored to work alongside you to help write the next amazing chapter!

Do you need more great career advice for your homeschool student? We have resources to help!

Recommended Resources:

Young Professional Series Bundle

5 Tips for Homeschooling Through High School

FREE Personalized Learning Plan

Special Needs Credits & Transcripts

Special Needs Credits & Transcripts

You have a special needs kiddo, and they are in high school. They are not quite up to grade level in Math or English, or it takes them a few years to get through what is traditionally a one-year program. How do you award special needs credits and special education transcripts?

The basics and therapy eat through your week, there is no time for extracurriculars, and the list of concerns goes on. Special Needs parents have unique life challenges, including creating a Special Needs Transcript for their High School years.

Twenty-Five Clues Hinting at Learning Disabilities that Hint at Learning Disabilities. Need a helping hand? Our SPED Academic Advising will save you time and money!

Creating a Special Needs Transcript

The Basics of a Special Needs Transcript

  • Vocational Transcripts are often 19 credits total, compared to a 24-credit College Prep or 28-credit Honors Transcript.
  • You will want to list 4 credits of English, 3 of Math, 3 of Science, 3 of History, 1 of PE, ½ credits of Health, Speech and Computer and Bible, and other electives.
  • A credit is generally considered to be 120 hours of work. You can organize this work by book study, lessons, practice, time logs, recitals, performances, hands-on work, etc.

You can list courses and subjects using a traditional 4 x 4-course grid (which you can find on our True North Homeschool Tribe FB Group) with the subjects along the left-hand side and years along the top, or you can list courses by subject area. My only caution is that if your students hope to enter the military, they might not accept a by-subject transcript.

Transcripts, Special Needs, and Graduation

Your special needs student may be unable to handle high school level classes or struggle with what would be considered traditional high school work in a specific subject area. It is perfectly acceptable to list courses that your students are capable of, regardless of the level of “grade.” If your student is 15 and capable of 4th grade English, list English on the transcript and give them full credit for an entire year’s work and the grade they earn.

According to Federal law, children with disabilities have the right to stay in school until they complete their school program or until they turn 21, whichever comes first. That is good news as you manage and balance life skills, academic and vocational training, and therapies. Give yourself – and your student! – the time they need to develop and succeed!  

Can therapies “Count” for Credit?

Absolutely! You can log PT and OT for PE credit. Special needs tutoring or educational therapies can count towards credit in subject areas. You can use logs to keep track of credit hours.

How About Hobbies and Electives?

Inevitably, parents underestimate what their students have done and what they can do. Dramatic or musical theater can count towards Speech, Music, Drama, etc. Working in a computer repair shop can be logged and count towards Community Service, BCIS- depending on how detailed and involved the work was -or sales and marketing.

I worked with a student a few years ago who, at age 16,  could not manage to write a complete sentence. This same student successfully co-owned and operated a model train store with his Mom. He had customers worldwide who understood that his speech impediment would in no way impede the high quality of service and attention to detail that he would offer every customer.

The Power of the Parent

So many parents of Struggling Learners and Special Needs students go above and beyond looking for resources, experiences, tutors, and therapies that bolster and build their student’s ability to succeed. Too often, the parent doesn’t understand how to transcribe these experiences, travel, therapies, and P.E. opportunities into credits.  Boy Scouts, 4-H, etc., and other similar programs can translate into many academic credits. Think creatively!

Now, where to start?

Parents of struggling learners and Special Needs are often thrust into a world that requires much research and goes beyond normal. High school can be especially daunting. But you don’t’ have to go it alone! Connect with other Special Needs parents and homeschooling companies that partner with Struggling Learners and Special Needs.

Our favorites include SPED Homeschool and our Special Needs Academic Advising, Classes, and FB Group: Survive and Thrive Special Needs Homeschool.

Our Special Needs Academic Advising program was created to come alongside struggling learners and special needs families. We will do a credit evaluation (and find those “hidden” credits you may have overlooked), recommend curriculum, classes, and programs, develop a Personalized Learning Plan, and provide the support you need to manage to homeschool successfully.

The world of Struggling Learners and Special Needs can be tricky to manage, but thankfully, with the resources available today, you don’t have to go it alone!

What’s the Difference Between Study Skills, Executive Functioning Skills, Life Skills, Personal Finance, and Career Exploration?

What’s the Difference Between Study Skills, Executive Functioning Skills, Life Skills, Personal Finance, and Career Exploration?

Let’s find out:

Name of ClassScheduling Skills/ Budgeting TimeDevelopMemory SkillsDevleopBudgeting SkillsUnderstanding Personality & SkillsExplore Vocational InterestsSoft Skills DevelopmentDevelop Interview& Research SkillsStudents discover & develop personal strengths & skills
Study SkillsXxxxxx
Exec. Functioning SkillsXxxxx
Life SkillsXXxxxxx
Personal FinanceXxx
Career Explorationxxxxx
Scroll right to see the entire chart.

Executive Functioning Skills 

The Executive Functioning class focuses on intentional self-regulation, along with touching on all seven forms of executive functioning, which include: 

  • adaptable thinking
  • Self-control
  • time management
  • working memory (for reasoning and decision making)
  • Organization
  • Planning
  • self-monitoring

 Using multiple resources, the educator will encourage discussion and offer helpful tips to help students gain control and mastery in their everyday lives. The students will also be able to improve their day-to-day school and family life as we work in the following areas:

  • making schedules
  • creating a personal calendar
  • creating short, effective lists
  • tips to help our memory
  • understanding how our actions affect others

Study Skills 

The Study Skills class will cover material to help students explore different methods, tools, and resources for studying well. Students will begin to identify their learning preferences using multiple senses, 

  • organizing a study space
  • managing time
  • handling stress
  • Memorizing
  • taking notes
  •  annotating and outlining
  • Researching
  •  Proofreading
  • citing sources
  • preparing for tests. 

Students will build their confidence as they build their study skills!

Life Skills 

The Life Skills class will allow students to develop an understanding of the skills necessary for launching successfully as a young adult.

The sections of this one-year course are centered on three broad topics:

  • Making the most of your life
  • Life transitions
  • Preparing for your first job. 

Units include:

  1. Finding & Creating A Healthy Life Balance
  2. Organizing Your Life -A deeper understanding of time management and how to prioritize for the best possible outcomes when life gets overwhelming.
  3. Can You Afford to Leave Home? Students create a move-out budget & checklist,
  4. Budgeting & Money Management – students create a sample budget & meal plan,
  5. The Interview – students participate in a mock job interview experience.
  6. Resume– Students complete a resume and cover letter
  7. The Workplace Experience

Personal Finance 

Personal Finance focuses on three key areas of money management:

  1. How to make wise money choices now
  2. How to make wise money choices in the future
  3. How to prepare for financial independence
  4.  

Lessons Included in Personal Finance:

  • College and Careers
  • Budgeting
  • Car Purchase Apartment Rental
  • Spouse Selection
  • Credit Cards and Interest
  • Baby & Payroll
  • House Purchase
  • Insurance
  • School Choice
  • Investments,
  • Business Basics
  • Layoffs and Reconciliations
  • Income Tax
  • The Dangers of Divorce
  • Retirement

Career Exploration

The Career Exploration Class takes students on a wonderful adventure of discovering themselves, their families, and possible career paths. It’s a must-take class in high school, given that students take 6 years to graduate from college, not 4, and graduate with an average of $37,000 in debt. Furthermore, many of our kids will have 7 vocations during the course of their working life. Preparing them in high school to understand their interests, skills, and family strengths and beginning to develop leadership skills will save them so much time and money throughout their life. 

  • Students will identify the intersection of passions, interests, and the necessity of work.
  • Students will explore the difference between work and career and how both fit into their personal pathways.
  • Students will learn “How They Learn.”
  • Students will identify their strengths and weaknesses using a multitude of assessments.
  • Students will leave class with a Personal Pathway based on strengths, interests, passions, and gifting paired with real-world career exploration, utilizing the Holland Code. 
  • The student will identify spheres of possibility instead of a single job or career.
  • Students will also create an occupational interest inventory.