Career paths and visioning can begin in high school

An understanding of who you are and where your passions lie will “point you in the right direction.”
Dr. Yvonne Fournier
Dr. Yvonne Fournier
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Post Graduation
Goal Setting

• Goal setting
• Vision


May 3, 2011 - PRLog -- Dear Dr. Fournier:

I wish the two high schools I attended taught me how to deal with the ups and downs of the real world. I could have used a class in “what happens if you can't get a job, and the unemployment rate rises and nobody can find a job.” So far, I have been unable to find a job.  Why don’t high schools offer juniors and seniors workshops on how to get a job, how to build a career and the many educational options besides a four-year degree?  What would you suggest to a student in high school today who needs some direction or guidance?

Elise L.
Tallahassee, FL

Dear Elise,

The thing to understand about direction is that it will take an honest assessment and review of yourself, by…you.  An understanding of who you are and where your passions lie will “point you in the right direction.”


In my experience, the most important thing to understand about direction is that you need to have a defined destination.  Without a long-term vision of what your ultimate goal is, your compass will spin, and you will not be able to find your bearings, to borrow a navigational metaphor.

Vision relates to something you wish to accomplish that goes beyond what you do for a living. For example, a vision may be to make a documentary to increase awareness about the suffering of children in Africa, or it could be something as simple as owning and operating an independent coffee shop.
Vision is not about things you dream of having such as a big house or a nice car or the next party you want to go to. There’s nothing wrong with wanting those things, but they should not be generalizations like “a big house,” or “lots of money.”  Be specific.
When you have a clear long-term goal, the jobs you apply for and take become positions that move you steps closer to the achievement of that goal.


Here is something that you can do to help yourself, since you don’t have the luxury of time in hoping that high schools address the needs that you pointed out.
Dream it, believe it, and do it!  Envision what it is that you want for your life, set a timeline, and write it down.  If you have difficulty getting a sense of yourself, as many do, the best thing you can do to help yourself is to make a brief Inventory of You.  Answer these questions:

1.   What classes did I love?
2.   What classes did I like?
3.   What do I love to do?
4.   What do I like to do?
5.   What am I good at even though it’s not my favorite thing to do?
6.   What do other people say I am good at even though I may not agree?
7.   What positions have I been in that made me feel passion¬ate about what I was doing?
8.   What do I hate to do?
9.   What situation(s) would I attempt to avoid?

There are more questions you can ask yourself, but these are a start.  Once you answer these questions, you will be able to write a brief summary of yourself.  For example:

I am passionate about photography, love my pets, keep journals of my mountain-climbing trips and wish I could live outdoors forever and take my pets with me everywhere I go.

In accordance with your interests and strengths, you may then be able to envision a path:

Possible Major: Pre-vet
Possible Minor: Journalism and during summers take classes at photography schools
Resulting Graduate School Path: Veterinary medicine school

Once you have your summary, you will be in a position to judge and choose appropriate positions that will aid you in the achievement of your goals.  Plan your work, and work your plan!


Have a question about education, education-related issues or your child’s schoolwork or homework? Ask Dr. Fournier and look for her answer in this column. E-mail your question or comment to Dr. Yvonne Fournier at

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For 30 years, Dr. Yvonne Fournier has been helping children become more successful in school. Her column, "Hassle-Free Homework," was published by Scripps Howard News Service for 20 years. She holds her doctorate in education.
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