Do teachers in your school know about student interests and aspirations? If so, how do they know? What systematic data are collected on student aspirations, particularly as they move across grade levels in high school?
Consider informal or self-made surveys or more formal means, such as CampusReady in the appendix, to gather more information on student aspirations.
Develop assignments that require students to do research on their interests and on postsecondary programs. For example, students could be required to do a research paper each year on college options and the cost of pursuing an option of interest to them. Online sites such as Naviance (naviance.com) and Big Future (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org) provide many free resources to help students complete such assignments.
Construct a research project where students collect information on three different jobs to report on the necessary qualifications (e.g., training, education, skills), job market outlook and salary predictions, and the day-to-day experience using O*net data on www.mynextmove.org.
Create an activity for students using Venn diagrams to explore how student interests and skills overlap with different career types. Brainstorm in small groups the types of jobs that would be fitting for team members.
Host a “career jumping” event, where students conduct two- to five-minute interviews with professionals from a variety of fields. Have the professionals talk about challenge and how they overcame obstacles.
Have students orally present on their interests in relation to different career or educational pathways (http://www.whodouwant2b.com/student/pathways).
Determine if tracking, formal or informal, is present in academic courses and how such practices affect student aspirations.
Share with your students the comparison chart of 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics average salaries and unemployment rates across different levels of education attained, including occupational programs (http://visual.ly/why-go-college).
Explore further the idea that readiness has a component that relates to student aspirations and interests. What types of program models might allow students to explore interests without having to make an irrevocable choice about career?
Review “Education to Employment,” the McKinsey report that provides case studies and examples of how to prepare students for this critical transition (http://mckinseyonsociety.com/downloads/reports/Education/Education-to-Employment_FINAL.pdf).
Use CampusReady, which is described in the appendix, to gauge the aspiration levels of students and the general overall attitudes toward academic achievement.
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