Directions from a toll taker

Human toll takers used to give directions

When the green station wagon slowed to pay the toll to enter the Maine turnpike, I knew we were in need of better directions.  My dad leaned out the window with change in his hand “We want to go to ________,” he spoke in a loud voice.  The old-timer collected the money and smiled.
“Well, why don’t you go?” he replied.
We all giggled at the wisecrack before hearing the details of our desired route.

The encounter quickly became legend in our family.  Any of us who dared to speak “I want to_______,” quickly heard the refrain “well, why don’t you?” from the others.  The bit never stopped being funny.

Yet, how would the toll taker have responded if my father had shouted “I don’t know where I’m going!”  That’s a harder question.  A Maine-ah (someone from Maine) might say “You can’t get there-ah from here-ah.”  Ain’t that the truth.

My former startup focused on career exploration, Doors to Explore, accepted this reality: high school and college students may not know where they’re headed for a career, and they may not get there if they don’t know where they’re going.  Quite simply, students need a resource to get them on a path to where they want to go.  The company aspired to be this resource.

Various polls have shown in the past that roughly half of all 4-year college students enter their freshman year undecided about a major.  Of the half that declared a major, less than half of those will complete a degree in that area.  A college advisor recently told me that his students change majors an average of three times.  Woe is the parent or student to pay the tuition bill for this kind of lengthy exploration.

No one would argue against the discovery of new subject areas in college, but why spend a whole semester in a class when a deliberate glance at a subject online could yield a similar thumbs-up or thumbs-down conclusion?  Doors to Explore attempted a fast, at-a-glance knowledge of STEM fields.  It’s unlikely that any student would find all the options fascinating, but some of them must surely spark more interest than others.  When stopping at a career toll booth, make sure to ask the right question to get a meaningful response.

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