photo by Emily Bixler
In its current form, Project Life has been a success. Most notable is the job shadow requirement, which exposes students to work in a field they have interest in.
Job shadowing makes clear whether a student will or will not enjoy their field. This can be crucial to massive decisions like where students go to college or what classes they want to pursue.
While this experience is technically scheduled for junior year, nothing stops students from postponing it until late in their senior year.
More strictly enforcing this policy would better prepare students for senior-year decisions, including choosing a college and a major. Even students who enter college undeclared still must consider types of fields offered at the college.
In their current form, job shadows are often postponed to partially – and sometimes midway – through senior year, after students have applied to colleges and declared majors.
The result can be a student be accepted into a college nursing program, only to discover after job shadowing that he no longer is interested in the field.
Or worse, a student could apply to college as a communications major only to discover through her job shadow that she is better suited for engineering.
Swapping to a major in a completely different field can be difficult. Tech schools typically do not offer extensive art courses, and vice versa.
Even if students complete job shadows their senior year prior to sending out applications, they still do not reap the benefits that younger students do.
Senior year scheduling is more flexible than that of any other grade, allowing students to customize their schedules to align with their goals. If a student ends up changing her goals during her senior year, she loses the opportunity to build her schedule around those goals.
In some cases, a student who cools on a career after witnessing it firsthand might not instantly have a new direction. Completing job shadows earlier allows students more time to explore other careers, even having time to job shadow those careers.
On the other hand, students who only discover that a field is not right for them their senior year may need to go about the college-selection process without direction. While there is no shame in entering college undeclared, students are best off at least knowing their general path.
One simple method of enforcing this policy could be to withhold the senior parking passes of students who have not completed the job shadow. Those students would be able to complete job shadows in the remainder of the summer, possibly having enough time to change their schedules if need be.
This year, seniors occupy 276 parking spots, though this includes students who have several spots for multiple cars. This encompasses over half of the 376 student class, showing that requiring completed job shadows would affect the majority of students.