Friday 5: College and career readiness

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Key points:

When we think of K-12 education, an important aspect is what students do after high school. That might be college, it might be workforce training, or it might be direct entry into a career. These options make college and career readiness an essential aspect of K-12 education.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest questions around college and career skills today:

What is college and career readiness?

A college and career readiness definition will vary from person to person. But in general, it means preparing students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to excel in postsecondary education and/or the workforce, meeting their personal and professional goals along the way. Still, this definition doesn’t mean all students have equal exposure. Students have the aptitudes (or natural talents) for the nation’s most in-demand career fields–including healthcare, manufacturing, technology, and finance–but they are not inclined to pursue those occupations due to a profound lack of exposure, according to The 2024 State of the Future U.S. Workforce Report from tech provider YouScience, which aims to solve the skills gap crisis for students and employers. Here’s why that’s important.

Why are college and career readiness standards important?

A globalized curriculum will help better prepare students for work and entrepreneurship and bring education into the 21st century. We should be aiding our children and future generations in their journey of lifelong learning and equipping them with the skills they can transfer in any job or business they find themselves in. Education shouldn’t be narrow. Children need space to learn and grasp new concepts and ideas; that’s how we get innovation and a more prosperous future. Rolling out a globalized curriculum will achieve just that–and more. A global college and career readiness curriculum is essential in that pursuit.

Why is college and career readiness important in high school?

College and career readiness programs are important in high school because students are on the cusp of making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. Deciding on a college major or a career path is a tricky decision for even the most dedicated of students. Before enrolling in programs or accepting jobs, students have to consider their own skills, their career prospects, and their ability to thrive within the department at large. Here’s how you can help them.

How to prepare student for college and career readiness?

The U.S. has a two-pronged labor market problem: a labor shortage and a skills gap. If every unemployed individual in the U.S. found a job right now, there would still be 4 million open jobs. As it becomes increasingly evident that schools are not providing students with the requisite skills to succeed in the labor market, the root of the persistent labor shortage and skills gap in the U.S. can be traced back to the K-12 education system. However, career and technical education (CTE) programs have shown great promise in addressing this issue. The Department of Education notes that students who focus on CTE courses in high school have higher median annual earnings, graduation rates, and employment rates than non-CTE students. These career readiness examples are critical for students and the nation as a whole–learn why.

What does college readiness include?

A college and career readiness skills list could be infinite–students need critical thinking, the ability to collaborate, empathy, motivation, etc. But students also need passion, particularly in the pandemic’s wake, as many students struggle with motivation and direction. Passion for specific areas of study or certain careers can make all the difference in a student’s success on their chosen path. Many educators agree that igniting student engagement and curiosity has become incredibly difficult since the COVID-19 pandemic. A possible solution to igniting students’ inherent curiosity is to show them how what they are learning in school connects to the real world through career exploration. There are many benefits to exposing K-12 students potential career paths. It can help them set goals, motivate them to learn, help them explore who they are, and help them discover what they like to do. The fundamental benefit of sharing potential career pathways with students is that it piques their curiosity about their future and drives them to engage in lessons to learn more, either about potential fields they may be interested in or the knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in a career. Here’s how to link student curiosity to their future paths.

Laura Ascione
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