College and Career Readiness for All
The purpose of this article is to inform readers about research-supported counseling services to improve college and career readiness for all.
Every student, regardless of her/his gender, ethnicity, race, socio-economic, or family background has the potential to achieve in school, and graduate from college if the proper guidance, support, and access to resources are provided.
In other words, it is 21st century schools’ responsibility help every student successfully complete high school, enroll in college, and graduate from college.
As the previous studies have showed that when schools design and deliver comprehensive school counseling programs, students receive measurable benefits in their college and career readiness In accordance with this belief, K-12 schools’ are required to ensure that all students receive a systemic support that will help them make healthy decisions, set goals, and take the necessary actions to achieve their college and career goals.
Particularly, school counselors play a crucial role to help all students reach their full potential by developing the essential skills needed to get ready for college and a career, and become productive citizens.
Therefore, this article recommends school leaders, counselor, policy makers and educators to implement 12 research-supported counseling services to improve college and career readiness for all.
- College and Career Readiness Classroom Guidance Lessons: Starting from kindergarten, all students should have opportunity to participate in a systemic college and career readiness classroom guidance lessons for their ongoing college awareness and career development.
- Individual College and Career Counseling Sessions: To encourage all students to make informed college and career decisions, not only high schools but also both middle and elementary schools must introduce career awareness and career planning through individual college and career counseling sessions. During these personalized college and career counseling sessions, students will have opportunity to explore their personal abilities, skills, interests, and values to get ready for high school and beyond.
- School-wide Career Fair: All K-12 schools are also encouraged to offer school-wide career days and career fairs to provide their students with the opportunity to explore possible career paths and obtain insight into the specific job requirements, daily work responsibilities, and general experiences associated with each career. Since the career day is a vehicle for enhancing students’ career readiness and creates opportunities for students to explore future career possibilities, the school-wide career day can become an integral part of the school’s counseling programs.
- College Trips: Starting in the elementary and middle school years, schools should also consider scheduling field trips for all K-12 students to visit college open houses and college fairs. These grade-wide and school-wide college trips are wonderful opportunities for creating a college-going culture and increasing students’ motivation in college and career exploration processes
- Internship and Apprenticeship Program: School Counselors are in a great position to offer comprehensive Internship and Apprenticeship Programs. School counselors can consult with school leaders and key stakeholders and work with small local business owners such as family doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, and engineering offices to arrange internship hours for high school students.
- Summer College and Career Readiness Enrichment Programs
School counselors are also encouraged to work with local universities and related associations to plan comprehensive summer college and career readiness enrichment programs and summer camps. During the summer, these programs will help K-12 students experience the college campus life and gain a real college experience early.
- Job Shadowing Program: Job shadowing is a work experience option where students learn about a job by walking through the work day as a shadow to a competent worker. The Job Shadowing Program is a great opportunity for middle and high school students learn about a career and observe daily work activities.
- College and Career Counseling Mentoring Program: It is also very crucial to develop a formalized mentoring program that involves students setting college and career goals based on personal, academic and career interests beginning in the middle school grades and continuing throughout high school with the close support of adult mentors that include teachers, school counselors, alumni, community members and parents
- Three-way College and Career Conference: Starting from middle school, it is very helpful to organize three-way college and career conferences. The meeting includes parent-student and counselor and they focus on creating access to college and career pathways by offering a systemic support in college and career exploration and the selection processes.
- College and Career Readiness Portfolio Management: Instead of purely focusing on test scores and school grades, we suggests schools to develop an integrated and comprehensive college and career readiness portfolio assessment that requires each student to develop and present his/her own personalized (a) interest profile, (b) ability assessment, (c) job readiness skill assessment, (d) graduation plan, (e) growth plan, (f) personal-social development plan, (g) post-secondary education selection plan, (h) short and long-term life and career goals, (i) research project, (j) personal qualities checklist, (k) leadership project, (l) college affordability plan, (m) community service project, (n) college essay, (o) recommendation letters, (p) standardized test results, (r) resume, and (s) college readiness journal.
- Financial Aid Counseling: In addition to providing academic advising, college and career counseling, crisis management, social and emotional counseling, 21st century professional school counselors are also required to have expertise in financial aid counseling.
- College representative visits: School counselors should also consider inviting local college representatives and admission counselors who can provide students with information about college admission process and college life. Starting from middle schools, college reps can begin talking to students about their academic and career interests and help students think about the the connections between academic coursework, college, and future career
These two recommended programs aim to improve all students’ preparedness for college and provide systemic career information so they can make informed college and career decisions. Particularly, school counselors play a significant role for preparing self-directed college and career-ready students who have high expectations for their education, career, and life. In order to reach out to all students and make all counseling programs and supportive services available and accessible, school counselors are required to play a very proactive role in the school building by being visible and accessible at all times.
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Dr. Olcay Yavuz
Assistant Professor & Program Coordinator
Educational Leadership & Policy Studies Department
Southern Connecticut State University, America