Exploring postsecondary pathways

School  leaders should emphasize student exploration of all pathways. This is even more important as students navigate outcomes of the pandemic, including changing interests and priorities. Narrowing in on interests will further aid postsecondary satisfaction and success. All students should engage in this process even if they are currently decided on a particular pathway.  

Guiding Questions

  • What exposure and knowledge about various career pathways do students have?
  • How are postsecondary options shared and celebrated in schools and districts, and with families?
Examples, Tools and Strategies
Strategies Aligned Resources

Give interest assessments

 School leaders should consider having every student in grades 6-12 assess their career interests. Priorities have changed in the past eighteen months, and helping students identify their interests is the first step. Reflecting on the outcomes and using linked resources to further explore various careers will aid in building a solid foundation and intrinsic motivation for all students when it comes to postsecondary planning.

Have middle and high schools share the Interest Profiler + Add to Action Plan (O*NET) from the Department of Labor with students to assess their career interests (and what the next educational steps are) with a simple 60 question quiz appropriate for grades 6-12.

  • Deepen the impact of the assessment and build student knowledge by browsing careers by industry + Add to Action Plan for in-depth acquisition

Short on time? This interest assessment + Add to Action Plan from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education is similar to O*NET but quick – after a few questions students are paired with career clusters related to their chosen personality traits.

Develop a toolkit for 9-12 pathway exploration

Create an interactive toolkit or calendar of milestones that can be used by staff and is also accessible to students and families.  

NYC Department of Education’s  Postsecondary Planning Milestones Toolkit + Add to Action Plan provides effective and actionable strategies. One is a 9-12 interactive postsecondary planning checklist + Add to Action Plan that has lesson plans for teachers and advisors and helps students and families make meaningful traction towards postsecondary milestones.

Provide virtual experiences

In many ways, remote learning offers more opportunities to learn about various careers and colleges. These can be student- or school-driven but should be shared in a central place such as a district or school college and career planning website or through your school’s college application database. While career days and events are impactful, implementing regular interaction with professionals in a safe online environment can be more meaningful to high school students and a lower lift for schools.

Online communities, such as Career Village + Add to Action Plan, are helpful once students are narrowed in on what they want to do.

Another meaningful way to bring careers to life is by implementing Khan Academy’s Career Unit + Add to Action Plan in 9th or 10th grade. Students learn about career basics and in-depth work experiences of young professionals via subtitled videos. The tool also has essential general career advice such as how to negotiate salary + Add to Action Plan.

You Visit + Add to Action Plan has a range of campus tours, but also helps students create college lists based on academic data and other metrics.