November 19, 2021 | Kayliani Powlison

A female professor stands facing 5 students with laptops sitting at a table. She points at a screen.
[photo taken pre-COVID]

Career planning and college decision-making can be daunting tasks for incoming undergraduate students. Many students enter college undecided as to what major to pursue, which ultimately can extend their college attendance.

High schoolers are often faced with doubt about whether the major or career they select will be the right fit for them. College is there for them after this selection, but what is there to prepare them before making such a big decision? After all, a college experience will play a huge role in a student’s decision of what industry or profession to go into.

Calvin University is launching a program that will help guide high school students through these uncertainties. This coming summer, a new career exploration program will not only broaden horizons for high school students, but it will also serve as a valuable college experience workshop.

Making Career Exploration Accessible

“The idea of career exploration is to help our students explore the different interests they have so that when they come to college, they have a more realistic expectation of what their major and possible career outcomes are going to be,” explains Rosalba Ramirez, director of College Access Programs at Calvin University.

Ramirez says that many students grapple with the pressure of either attending college or finding a job soon after high school. The Career Exploration Program seeks to make this decision easier for high school students by providing invaluable experiences through its week-long workshop.

“In my particular case, I wanted to be a graphic designer,” reminisces Ramirez. “I did probably a year of graphic design [in college] and even though I enjoyed it, I realized that it was not necessarily what I wanted to do because … drawing was more enjoyable as a hobby, and not necessarily a profession.”

From her experience, Ramirez brings an empathy for students struggling with the complexity of which career path they should take. With this understanding, the program’s goal is to provide knowledge and hands-on experience to inform these difficult decisions.

Starting local

The Career Explorations program had ambitious goals for the summer of 2022, with original plans to invite students from across the country to attend the one-week long program. However, the program will start with inviting local students, allowing them to either stay with their families for the week or experience overnight residential life without the pressure of being far away from home.

Furthermore, keeping the program limited to the summer months allows professors to dedicate their time to the intense demands of the program’s curriculum. This way, students will get a real taste for what college rigor is like.

Partnering with the Career Center

The Career Explorations Program is partnering with the Career Center for their resume workshops, where Career Center staff and career coaches provide students with the essential skills for career preparation.

One thing that Ramirez praises the Career Center for is its ability to connect coaches with students on deeper levels through different majors or concentrations. She describes this relationship between career coach and student as “professional, passionate, and personalized.” The resources offered by the career center are free to all current students, so Ramirez says experiencing its usefulness as a high school student can lead to better understanding.

Overnight and Day-Only Offerings

The program’s expected start date is June 20, 2022, with registration opening in December. Application deadlines for overnight and day-only programs are on April 15 and March 15, respectively.

Overnight programs allow students to experience campus nightlife, giving them a peek into residential life in addition to the day’s intense programming.

For more information, contact College Access Programs at or by calling 616-526-6749.

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