One of the biggest factors in a student’s decision to drop out comes from the fact that they do not see how their education is relevant to their daily and future lives. And sometimes it’s hard to believe that education is relevant and important without proof and concrete examples, especially if students don’t have access to a good role model inside or outside of the classroom. For those students that learn by example, bringing in real-life professionals to talk about their careers is an excellent way to help connect learning to life and keep students engaged in school.
Host a Career Day
To begin planning a career day, first create a list of careers that you think would be interesting to feature, and ask the school staff to contribute their ideas, too. Then, ask around to see if your contacts know anyone in those fields that might be willing to come and speak to the students. Once you have a good list, it might be a good idea to survey your students to find out which careers have the most interest. If you don’t have any contacts in popular careers, try researching local businesses at your Chamber of Commerce or any local colleges or universities for volunteers. Once you decide on and make contact with your speakers, ask them to talk about how they chose their career, what education was needed, how they use their education in their daily lives, and which character traits are needed to perform their jobs. Also make sure to advertise your career day in the school newspaper, morning announcements, and social media channels, as applicable, to make sure that students are aware of the opportunity to hear real-life career experiences.
Find Real-Life Inspirational Stories
But sometimes students are grappling with tough emotional issues at home that can’t be solved with traditional classroom activities, making it hard to concentrate on their schoolwork. Similarly, showing these students how others managed to find emotional strength and happiness in their careers can give them hope and guidance, and bring them back to the right path to graduation. In this case, another type of guest speaker can be helpful: an adult that has overcome personal challenges to emerge successful in life. It may be harder to find a guest speaker like this, but try calling local non-profit organizations like Big Brother Big Sister® for inspiring stories, or search online for national motivational speakers.
The easiest way to get your students access to inspiring emotional stories is to introduce them to the Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive. Included in Family Connection, the interview archive features over 3,500 videos of individuals who have forged through different life challenges to accomplish unique goals. These leaders candidly discuss hardships, successes, and the obstacles they overcame to create a meaningful life on their own terms. Students can explore the interviews by 48 themes such as fear, failure, and perseverance to learn how leaders overcame challenges similar to what students may be facing today. Or, they can explore the archive by interests like film, entrepreneurship, writing, or science to find leaders whose interests align with their ambitions. All interviews are conducted by young people who traveled the United States to ask leaders how they turned a passion into a livelihood.
By exploring the diverse personal stories of those that have gone before them, students using the Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive gain exposure to career pathways they may not have known existed, and can actively begin thinking about colleges, majors, and career goals that reflect their unique talents and aspirations. And the best part is that they can do all of this at home, on their own time, when some extra hope and guidance could be needed the most. A little extra inspiration and motivation might be all a student needs to keep getting out of bed and coming to class every day, and it’s all available right at their fingertips.