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Cazenovia counselors help students look at their future

Eighth-graders use exam results, websites to find preferred careers

Bob Oldfield, left, walks a group of 11 eighth-graders through the Bridges Career Explorer website on Friday, Jan. 6. Students are able to access the site whenever and wherever they want, allowing them to learn about thousands of possible career paths.

Bob Oldfield, left, walks a group of 11 eighth-graders through the Bridges Career Explorer website on Friday, Jan. 6. Students are able to access the site whenever and wherever they want, allowing them to learn about thousands of possible career paths. Photo by Pierce Smith.

With many college students and young adults still struggling to find their professional roles in society, Cazenovia High School Counselors Bob Oldfield and Britt Zumpano are giving eighth-graders a jumpstart. Last week, the counselors began meeting with small groups of students to review their ACT EXPLORE exam results and introduce them to Bridges Career Explorer, an informational career website geared toward young students.

“Even if they don’t know what they want to do after high school, which is perfectly acceptable as they are only in eighth grade, it’s a good starting point to think about what classes and/or electives they will pick for next year, as we start the scheduling process,” said Oldfield. “Because we know standardized testing won’t be going away, we like that [the ACT EXPLORE exam] exposes students to it in a non-threatening way, and that they can use the results with their parents to get better.”

Earlier this school year, 117 eighth grade students completed the ACT EXPLORE exam, hoping to get a better idea of what career paths might be best for them to follow. The nationally-administered test consists of 72 questions in four multiple-choice sections of English, mathematics, reading and science.

After the results are mailed to the homes of students, the counselors, as well as the children and their parents, are able to use the scores to pinpoint areas that individual students may need help in. An “interest inventory” is assigned to each student, offering a suggestion of what profession they may be best suited for, out of 26 career areas.

Once the results were returned to the school, Oldfield and Zumpano began meeting with about 11 students at a time; returning their original test packets, explaining how to translate the scores and offering encouragement to those students whose test results did not reflect the professions they had in mind.

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