Page 74 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - DBU Journal for K-12 Educational Leadership

72 Julie Leslie, EdD academic freedom they experienced in the ISM program. They expressed gratitude for the opportunity to research a topic of their choice. This academic freedom also created the opportunity for students to struggle, which participants reported increased their resilience. Participants discussed how their ISM teacher often challenged them to take risks but also helped them recover if the risks were not fruitful or were discouraging. A number of participants mentioned that these components of the ISM program transcend careers and will serve them well their whole lives. Table 2 shows the themes and codes for RQ2. Summary of Findings for Research Question 3 (RQ3) Research Question 3 (RQ3) What are the perceptions of students who took the Independent Study and Mentorship course (ISM) on their chosen career path or their choice of college major? Many current high school and college students will work in jobs that have not yet been invented. In a presentation to students and parents, a senior executive with Dell Corporation explained that today’s students will need to find creative solutions to two critical issues that grow increasingly complex by the day: cybersecurity and data storage. Given this technological impact, in addition to the rising costs of college, students need time to research various career paths and to do this research through the lens of their abilities and interests. Research participants in the current study greatly appreciated the opportunity to do this research during high school and this research greatly increased their confidence. The research also helped them make informed decisions about the college major they chose and, in some cases, where they chose to apply to college. They especially appreciated this confidence when they watched some of their friends switch majors several times or experience an academic crisis when they realized they had spent several years working towards a degree, only to realize they did not want to pursue the profession associated with that degree. Research participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn this information for themselves while in high school. Theme Code Professionalism and Soft Skills Public Speaking Interviewing Skills Professional Dress and Conduct Resume Personal Branding Relevant Learning Networking Academic Freedom Increased Perseverance Increased Opportunities to Take Risks and Build Resilience Opportunity to Choose and Design Own Learning Path Table 2 Findings Connected to RQ2