Ganesh Kohli, Founder (International Career and College Counseling) IC3 Movement, India, Chair, Board of Trustees, IC3 Institute, President & Chief Mentor, KIC UnivAssist, Co-founder, The Aha Movement. Ganesh is a teacher, counselor, entrepreneur, and life-long learner who has founded, nurtured, and led multiple education-focused organizations over the past 24 years. In his professional journey, Ganesh has visited 450+ universities across the world, personally guiding 4000+ students in making decisions about their higher education. With the vision of “counseling in every school”, Ganesh founded the IC3 Movement, which has reached 90+ countries and has 300+ volunteers across the globe.
Due to the pandemic and restrictions imposed on travel within their home countries and countries abroad, students’ higher education plans were thrown into disarray this year. Students need answers to questions as they make one of the most important decisions of their lives- what to study, where to study, and how to make it happen. This determines the potential for happiness, fulfilment and productivity for their entire lives.
The 2021 IC3 Institute Student Quest Survey reveals that 82 percent of students surveyed agree that career consultation during school days is important while taking decisions regarding their higher education. 52 percent of respondents sought advice from career professionals, teachers, or counselors on career-related issues. The numbers speak for themselves- students think career counseling is important. It is even more important for those who are not yet aware of the lack of it in their academic lives. Providing students this much needed support is more a necessity than a luxury now.
Teachers as career counselors
Students spend nearly a third of their day in school, and teachers have a significant impact on their lives. Teachers spend a lot of time with students, gaining knowledge of students’ interests, strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities, and have immense capacity to guide students in the right direction.
By and large, most schools lack a career counseling infrastructure, not just in India, but globally. Letting the power of youth leave school unprepared for their future is by far the most pressing concern that schools need to deal with. India is finally waking up to the fact that career counseling should be made compulsory in schools.
The findings of the 2021 IC3 Institute Student Quest Survey highlight the engagement of students with their school counselor. 54 percent of the students would like to meet the counselor at least once a month, against 29 percent of the respondents who are doing that now.
While having a dedicated career counselor in every school is the eventual way forward, not every school is able to invest in the human resources needed to fulfil this need. If every teacher is able to become a 10% career counselor, and provide their students with the information and guidance they so urgently need, schools will be able to largely solve this issue.
Not only does career counseling help students with information on colleges and careers, it also significantly improves learning outcomes when teachers are able to connect the world of academic learning to the world of careers, exciting students to the possibilities of careers connected to classroom knowledge.
Along with the tips on the country, college, courses, and careers, teachers can take the students through the entire admission process and other formalities. Since parental preferences matter the most in the most crucial decision making for their wards, a school counselor or a teacher is also well placed to work with parents when helping students make informed decisions.
But teachers need training in order to better guide their students. There are programs designed to provide teachers with the training and resources they need to meet the growing needs of students and parents in the classroom and beyond. In fact, through the IC3 Institute, teachers and schools are trained to become effective champions and advocates for the educational and professional future of their students.
IC3 Institute also conducts a one-year certificate program in career and college counseling that is designed for full-time school counselors and teachers. The program is free of cost and delivered in four distinct one-week modules conducted in-person as well as virtually through online instruction; supplemented with self-study and online materials.
Rapidly evolving career landscape:
Career options have increased manifold in the recent past. Global competition, product innovation, process development, and advanced technology all have an impact on the types of jobs that students will find most valuable in the coming years. The skills required to succeed in today’s workforce are also evolving. With so many different courses and programmes to choose from, many students are unsure which path they should take. Many are completely unaware of the various options available to them.
The findings of the 2021 IC3 Institute Student Quest Survey show that over 71 per cent of students think critically about future employment. Career prospects, courses, and colleges are the most critical components in pursuit of a future career. Passion for a career, opportunities for advancement, the glamour and excitement of the job, parental and peer pressure, all contribute to students’ confusion. Under these circumstances, informed career counseling comes to the rescue of the students and parents.
School-level counseling goes a long way in eliminating confusion among students about the career options that match their personal and professional goals. The counseling enables them to explore multiple choices for their careers based on their respective academic backgrounds, capabilities, and interests.
It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that their students receive expert guidance so that they do not make career decisions in the dark and can clearly define their goals based on their unique interests, abilities, and personal circumstances. The CBSE has made it mandatory for schools to have a career counseling wing. There has been a high demand for trained career counselors ever since.
Since it is equally important for teachers to be aware of the plethora of career options available for students, they themselves need to have access to comprehensive training and resources to best guide their students.
In India and globally, career counseling for students has become an absolute necessity. Trained career counselors are in high demand. With teachers being the first level counselors for students, they need training and resources to help them upgrade their own skill set. Only then will they be able to effectively guide students to have access to resources and avenues that were unheard of a decade ago.