Engaging families in postsecondary planning

Family engagement, while always critical, has gained new importance in our ever-changing school models and with the dip in postsecondary enrollment. Keeping families engaged throughout the process in meaningful and culturally relevant ways is vital. Sharing opportunities and resources with families will help ensure milestones are met and celebrated and that families are partners in students’ successful next chapters. 

Guiding Questions

  • Are families able to access postsecondary planning materials and information in a way that is accessible to them (preferred language, meeting times, etc.)?
  • Are families informed about the process and included in the process? What will it take to have inclusion?
  • Are families informed about the process and included in the process? If not, what will it take to foster inclusion?  
Examples, Tools and Strategies
Strategies Aligned Resources

Launch a college and career planning website  

It is often challenging for families to find information specific to your school or district’s postsecondary planning resources. A link to your postsecondary planning site on your district or school’s landing page will give families access to information. Ensuring that the site is user-friendly and uses preferred languages and photos that reflects the make-up of your school/district  school/district will increase inclusion. If your school or district does not have a site, as a starting point, consider linking to a Google document with shared information and resources as a starting point, such as this one!  

While a site is an important tool, communication about CCR needs to be ongoing. Include messages, opportunities, and celebrations of success in your newsletters, social media posts, and email blasts to families.   

Creating or expanding family focused sites for postsecondary planning helps families explore postsecondary options together, rather than having the school be the sole information keeper. The NYC Department of Education’s K-12 college and career planning site + Add to Action Plan is approachable and replicable for other schools or districts.

These family inclusive suggestions + Add to Action Plan for career exploration, organized by school level, increase true family engagement and shared understanding of their student’s options.

Often immigrant students may face additional barriers in applying to college; this resource gives actionable suggestions for immigrant families + Add to Action Plan.

Host strategic college and career readiness events 

Families want to be involved and starting informative college and career readiness (CCR) events early in their school experience will support authentic engagement. Pairing CCR events with other school happenings, like report card and PTA events, will decrease the ask of families and increase participation.

Have schools plan one CCR event per grade level a year. A good place to start is this parent engagement toolkit + Add to Action Plan from Oregon Gear Up that includes helpful tips for authentic partnership. These family workshop power points + Add to Action Plan and agendas are easy to download and customize for your school or district

Broadly sharing postsecondary family tools to help families prepare for senior year milestones, such as these family conversation guides + Add to Action Plan from YES Prep, or making them readily accessible on district or school websites, can engage families during busier times for school counselors.