College and Career Prep
In an increasingly complex and specialized global economy, education and training beyond high school are crucial to the ability of high school graduates to earn a self-sufficient living and to support a family. Without education and training, high school graduates are more likely than ever before to see the options for their future narrow as the number of good jobs available to people with only a high school diploma dwindles. In order to succeed in college, students must graduate from high school ready for the demands of postsecondary education. ACT research (ACT, 2006, 2007) highlights the importance to all high school students of taking a rigorous core preparatory curriculum regardless of whether their intent is to enter a workforce training program or a four-year college or university after graduation. In addition, ACT believes that students should start career planning as early as middle school, by learning about their interests and their academic strengths and weaknesses as they begin to consider postsecondary and career option (ACT, 2005). How can we tell whether all of this planning and preparation ultimately matters? Long-term change in salary is a strong indicator of career success and economic well-being. A recent study (Neumann, Olitsky, & Robbins, 2007) examined whether the long-term earnings of first-year college students can be predicted by 1) their academic preparation in high school, as measured by ACT Composite score; and 2) the degree to which their career interests fit their planned choice of career.
Assess career interests, spend time reviewing the assessment results, and help students make sense of the results in light of current selfknowledge. Show students how to use career-relevant information (e.g., interests, abilities) to engage in focused career exploration. Help students learn how to use sources of college and career information, e.g., the ACT DISCOVER program, the ACT student Web site (www.actstudent.org), information interviews. Help students identify school coursework and postsecondary educational plans that will prepare them for their career goals. Periodically assess students’ academic strengths and weaknesses and evaluate in light of developing educational plans and goals.