Curriculum can only go so far in simulating real life experiences " the kind that can help students form opinions about what they want to do with their lives " so counselors began to steer students toward internships and real-world exposure to various careers.
"Students are being encouraged to participate in activities that are the result of their interests, in and out school, and religious institutions, etc.," said Gracon.
It is a course that many students will continue on as they move through their first year of college.
Many schools don't require students to choose a study major in their first year, Gracon said. So much of that first year is spent crystallizing their interests through research, job shadowing and internships. That year of reflection serves most student well enough in their selection of a career path, said Gracon. However, even though the ebb and flow of four " sometimes five " years of education and working with an adviser can lead to a job, the simple fact remains that every person has a multitude of interests. It's not as simple as setting aside one to carry on another, said Gracon.
"Some come in that are clear on what they want to do. Some come in and may have been an accountant for 10 years, and are good at their job, but they don't want to do it anymore," said Elaine Handley, associate professor of English at Empire State College's Saratoga Campus.
Empire State College operates 35 learning institutions across the state that offer a variety of degrees to adults looking to continue their education, complete a degree, or those looking for a change.
Handley, like all of the college's professors, acts as professor and mentor to the students, and the tools of the trade are not unlike those of high school counselors.