What do you want to be when you grow up?
Dempsey Middle School teachers and counselors don't think it's too early for their eighth-grade students to think about how they'll answer that question.
Jenny Nicely, eighth-grade counselor, said all Dempsey students take an online career assessment in one of the school's family consumer science courses.
The online test has two parts. The first asks students to rank what they like to do, and the test will produce for them an interest inventory, career strengths and clusters of careers to investigate.
The second part of the test judges their skills based on what they have done before or what they would like to learn to do.
For example, Nicely said, a student is asked to rank the following in order of what they enjoy the most: bake a cake, put together a puzzle or talk to a group of students about something they enjoy.
New this year, students also took a second career assessment during the ACT Explorer testing.
"The results let us know which students are undecided and which ones have very specific goals about their future," she said. "Some of our students know they want to go to college and some have a very clear idea of what they want to do."
Nicely said she thinks these tests are fun for the students and can match their interests with potential jobs.
"I think whatever exploration we can do at a young age, the better," she said. "Obviously, their paths may change, but it's still fun for the students to do."
Although many students consider a career something far in the future, some may want to decide what courses to take in high school to get a head start.
"I know students who are beginning to think about what they want to do in high school based on what they want to do later, and some students are already taking high school courses, "she said.
Karla DeLong, family consumer science teacher at Dempsey, said the one-page summary report students receive after completing the online assessments is helpful in determining what they should focus on in high school.
"Some students, for example, know they want to do cosmetology," she said. "Well, they have a chance to take free courses if they start soon. Otherwise, they'll have to pay full tuition."
DeLong said some students ask her why they have to look at career choices this early, since they're only in eighth grade.
"And I tell them, believe it or not, you're closer to working than you are to when you started schooling," she said. "They'll be working soon."
DeLong said students still have plenty of time to change their minds, and many of them may do that. However, she said it's important for them to see what's out there.
"Some will join the military, some will go to college, some will go straight to work, and some will go to technical school," she said. "We want them to be one step ahead and think about what they want to do."