Computer to aid students in making career choices

November 09, 1990|By David Conn

Meet the high school career counselor of the future: It's informative, it's user-friendly, it's IBM-compatible.

The guidance counselor of the future is a computer, and it has just arrived in Maryland, the state Department of Economic and Employment Development and Department of Education announced yesterday.

The program, called Visions, is a computer-based system to provide education and career information for high school and college students, and for people changing careers.

Developed by a Hunt Valley-based division of the non-profit, Iowa City, Iowa-based American College Testing Program Inc. Visions will be available ultimately at more than 350 Maryland sites.

Visions users will find information about colleges and occupations, said Gene Knutson, assistant vice president of American College Testing Program. He said the program, which his company developed for Maryland under a five-year, $580,000 contract, solicits aptitudes and interests, suggests possible careers and explains educational requirements for jobs.

Most state schools have a microfiche system that is less advanced and less flexible than Visions, an official of the Economic and Employment Development Department said. And, unlike generic systems American College Testing Program has developed, Visions is customized for Maryland, Mr. Knutson said.

The program has information about 458 occupations, 3,000 two- and four-year colleges and universities, 192 Maryland apprenticeship programs, 653 apprenticeship sponsors, high school equivalency programs, 41 state and federal financial-aid programs and 95 vocational education programs and more.

Visions will be installed in three Maryland high schools next week, said Charles Middlebrooks, assistant secretary for employment and training at the Economic and Employment Development Department.

If all goes well, it will be in 90 high schools by the end of November, he said, and will be in more than 350 locations next year, including middle and high schools, colleges, employment and training agencies, public libraries and other sites.

A group of human career counselors will have a chance to try out Visions at the Turf Valley Country Club in Ellicott City today during the annual meeting of the Maryland Association of Guidance Counselors, Mr. Middlebrooks said.

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