Why school might have set you up for failure when it comes to your career.

Ryan Kay Star

Ryan Kay

ryank@refer.io

That's a pretty outlandish statement that the school system has set up a high percentage of the future workers in this country for failure..

But just hear me out on this!

Schools were designed for one thing - to help you progress to reach their predetermined "end result".

High Schools, for example, are set up to help students graduate with a base level knowledge for continuing their education in college. The problem with this is..

If you don't go to college, then they really didn't set you up for the stage of life that comes next.

And although some alternative options to college like Ag and vocational training are now built into High School, that's still not a solution for all students..

The current education system does not leave a lot of space for variability and choice! It's still missing the mark when it comes to teaching students how to take control of their careers if they don't follow the "default path" and go to college.

And control is really the key problem here.

Because for their whole adolescence, those in control of pushing those students forward towards "higher education" are the teachers, career advisors, career counselors, and their communication with the parents.

Think about the school bus analogy here..

The school bus stops at your house to pick you up. They make sure that you get delivered to where you're supposed to go on time. Then the school bus picks you up from school, and drops you right back off at your house - all without you having to tell the bus driver where to go and when you need to be there by.

Even further, if you don't get on the bus, & don't end up making it to school, then the school staff will contact your parents informing them you didn't show up or that you were tardy..

All of this is completely non-controlled by the student.

Obviously this understanding between school and parent is vital for kids and teens in helping to drive them to graduate. But the downside is, that it also sets up the concept for the kids that somebody else is responsible for setting the path, making the decisions, and pushing things forward.

So once people get into college, all of the sudden, the "control" is dumped into their hands. They aren't on the "school bus" anymore - they're in the driver's seat! They decide where they're going, why, & how they're going to get there.

They're given a choice on what classes to take, what majors to pick, on whether or not to go to class, or actually do their homework. And with this flood of choices, depending on the way their family raised them and their own levels of ambition, it can cause some students to really struggle with the impact that full control over their life and their future now has.

Now don't get me wrong, the default process of going from middle school to high school, high school to college, college into an internship, and an internship into a job, tends to be fairly effective..

But when an individual chooses to take a path that isn't THAT EXACT PROCESS - whether you dropout of high school, finish high school but don't go on to college, go on to college but don't finish, or get a job at a small employer - there is a transition that has to happen that students are not taught to make. They aren't fully prepared to take control of their career path or know what path to choose.

This is one of the biggest challenges I see with a lot of job seekers and employees that I mentor! And what tends to happen is that they usually limit themselves to jobs in retail, labor, or food service because they think that's their only options.

You can climb the ladder in these types of careers by getting promoted to different roles within the company, IF you're consistent and know what you're going after. But for a lot of small employers, the motivation is not to help that employee reach their personal goals or cultivate experience needed for their ideal career path, it's to make sure their employees show up and do the job that they were hired for.

If you leave the employer in charge of your potential and growth, they're probably not going to push you to quit working for them and find a better job, and they're probably not going to push you to move up the career ladder if they don't benefit from you moving into that new position as well..

SO BE AWARE that in a given career path, helping an employee to grow and move up into different positions doesn't exist within all organizations.

So if there's no potential for growth, the best path might then be for the employee to add their newfound knowledge and experience to their resume, and leave! Go to a different company - either moving up with a different business, or moving into a different role.

That right there is what I see as one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now..

Not with people who take the default path through college to land a specific professional career..

But an opportunity for those who fall off that path - those who didn't go to college or who went to college and got a degree but not one that has a dedicated path into the work world.

It may be difficult to recognize what paths are available to take control of, and how to drive that path towards the job success that you desire..

But there are so many job opportunities out there now that people without degrees can easily mold into and learn.

Use your past experiences to propel your career path. Don't limit yourself to a small degree of success, when you have potential to do and become something greater.