Creating an educational plan

In 2005, Harris Interactive polled over 1,200 eight to seventeen year olds. This survey revealed that our youth believe having goals is important to achieving success. Unfortunately, one-third of them do not feel prepared to develop a plan to achieve their goals. The obstacles they reported were:

Planning is an important part of school, work, and life. Yet there are few situations in which your children are actually taught what a plan is or how to plan. Even students who have personal or career goals often move from middle school to high school to postsecondary education and work without a well conceived plan. Plans help connect the present with the future; and research has consistently demonstrated that connecting school to one's future has positive consequences for young people.

Oregon now requires that all students have an education plan in order to graduate from high school. This requirement recognizes that planning helps students succeed in school and out. It encourages students to explore who they are and where they want to go, and set a course consistent with those goals. It is at the heart of personalized, active, and meaningful education.

As a parent, you can help your children develop plans to achieve their goals and support those efforts in their schools.

Lifelong learning plans

Even after your students complete their education or training programs, the need to plan their career and learning continues. As an adult, you should also be aware of your need to manage your career through proactive planning. A lifelong learning plan describes ongoing personal and professional development, formal and informal. Such growth is essential for you and your adult children to stay effective in your chosen fields - or help you move into new ones. It keeps in motion, through goals and action steps, learning, reflection, and management of life transitions.

As noted in Ingredients of Career Planning, career plans answer five basic questions. A working adult should approach these questions with the following emphasis:

  1. Who am I?
    Every work experience offers an opportunity to learn something about yourself. Whether you are in an entry-level job or a top management position, you will have opportunities and challenges, successes and failures. Each of these affords the opportunity to consider who you are - your values and beliefs, talents and strengths, likes and dislikes. Your plan should reflect on how these relate to your current work and life situation and your goals for the future.
  2. Where am I going?
    Rarely is anyone truly happy when they are unchallenged. Most of us want to experience some growth and change in our work and life. Even if you are happy and successful (in your terms), change is inevitable. A lifelong learning plan puts you in the driver's seat of your transitions. It should frame goals, personal and career, that keep you moving in your chosen field or help you take a new path.
  3. How do I get there?
    For each goal you set, you will need to consider how to achieve it. Your lifelong learning plan should describe any educational requirements for reaching these goals
  4. What are my next steps?
    Your next steps describe what you are going to do in the short-term. This is the action piece - what kinds of opportunities am I going to create for myself? Who do I need to ask for support? What am I going to accomplish this year?
  5. Where am I now?
    Just as with all plans, adults need to continue to revisit their lifelong learning plans at regular intervals. Have their goals changed? Do they have new dreams? Did they achieve their short-term goals? Should they change their plan or take some new action to move toward their goals? A plan should invite ongoing reflection and revision. The plan should grow and develop as you grow and develop.