Career Coaches in High School

A Virginia program to get students on the right track shows promising results.

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Do high school students need career coaches? A Virginia newspaper's profile of a recently hired career coach raises the question for me. It sounds as though the coach is probably a great asset to the school, offering students various interest assessments as well as giving them a good look at the training and requirements of different careers.

But I do wonder how early students should be defining their career paths. My father always told his kids—there are four of us—to study what we loved or what interested us in college, rather than prepare for our careers. Elsewhere in Virginia, however, career coaches are being deployed in high schools to combat some worrisome statistics: More than a quarter of the state's students entering ninth grade don't graduate within four years, and more than half of those students don't move on to postsecondary education. The results look quite good. The Winchester Star reports that in high schools with career coaches, 40 percent of students who lacked college plans now have them.

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