Every year, more than a million students drop out of high school in the US. That’s roughly 7,000 students a day that choose not to finish their high school (HS) education—one student every twenty-six seconds.
There are several reasons for this. Some teens are bored with classwork. Others say that they don’t see how school is relevant to their lives. Others aren’t planning to go to college and don’t see a career pathway.
Educators and counselors can engage these students and get them invested in learning regardless of their post-secondary school. It starts with addressing the diversity of goals within the student population.
Engaging a Diverse Student Population
While many students do graduate HS and immediately enroll in college, many others do not. So much of the attention from counselors and career planning focuses on four-year colleges, yet less than half of HS graduates (44%) enroll in four-year colleges.
Nearly a quarter enroll in community colleges, two-year schools, or vocational schools. Some head to the military for a career. About a third do not continue their education at all.
Many of these students are at risk of dropping out. In total, about 6% of high school students drop out, according to the Department of Education. Dropouts are disproportionately low-income, disadvantaged, and minority students.
Educators must provide resources for all students, regardless of which category they fall into. Getting students excited early and engaged with career options helps reduce dropout rates.
Engagement Helps Improve High School Graduation Rates
As students get older, a lack of engagement with education can become a serious problem.
A Gallup survey showed that 80% of students feel engaged in elementary school, but by high school, that number is cut in half. That means less than half of the students in any high school feel like they are connected and engaged with learning.
Engagement is linked directly to student motivation about life after high school. When they see possibilities and opportunities for the future, they are more likely to stay in school. Whether students are headed to college or not, career planning is key to improving engagement and thus, high school graduation rates.
Career Mentoring and Career-Oriented Themes Improve Engagement
Multiple studies show that career mentoring and career-oriented themes improve engagement and help reduce dropout rates, especially for at-risk students.
Formal programs to assess career options, plan, and mentor students have been shown to improve high school graduation rates by as much as 9% across all students on average. Mentoring programs that spanned years had even stronger effects, including improving academic achievement, school attendance, and developing closer relationships.
Schools that deploy school academy strategies and incorporate college and career planning demonstrate significant gains in student performance among at-risk students.
Personalized and Flexible Career Planning
XAP enables personalized and flexible career planning for students, teachers, and counselors in an easy-to-use platform that helps students uncover opportunities.
Self-assessment tools can help students discover potential careers and explore diverse career options. Based on interests and abilities, the Career Finder feature triangulates results from multiple assessments to help find career matches and provide options that students may not have considered.
XAP helps students explore two-year, four-year, technical, and career schools to achieve their goals and help develop their post-secondary plans for success. Students can see educational pathways that will help them achieve their goals, including courses that help prepare them for careers.
For students heading to college after graduation, XAP helps streamline the application process, including gathering letters of recommendation and transcripts.
Help HS Counselors and Educators with Career Planning Options
HS counselors often feel overwhelmed with the large and diverse student body that they serve. Even with an improved commitment by school district administrators, the ratio of school counselors to students averages 424:1. This makes it challenging to address the personal needs of students. Also, nearly half of the country doesn’t mandate counselors in schools, which only exacerbates the situation by defaulting the responsibility to teachers and administrators.
XAP reduces the burden with robust online tools that enable group and independent discovery with a personalized approach. It provides educators with ready-to-go templates to aid students in career paths using pre-built plans or customized curricula.
Centralized data and a streamlined process enable more students to be reached and create personalization at scale. Reporting and tracking are also simple, enabling results to be measured more easily.
XAP improves student engagement and communication and helps drive program improvements.
There’s Work to Be Done and We Can Help
A survey of more than 260 schools in thirty states showed that we’ve still got a long way to go. Less than half of HS students surveyed felt that school helped them figure out which careers match their interests and abilities. Just a third of students used counseling to help with career planning or educational planning for post-secondary education.
There’s work to be done.
When you increase awareness and excitement about career paths for all students, you improve engagement. This helps improve high school graduation rates and student achievement and helps students chart a course for success.
XAP provides comprehensive and proven online solutions to promote academic and career readiness in students. From career assessments and exploration to educational plans to help with college applications and transcripts, XAP has solutions that can help improve high school graduation rates and prepare all students for the future.
Here at XAP, we believe that exploration lays the foundation for planning. That’s why we help school and district counseling leaders implement equitable programs and strategies to ensure that students graduate high school not only with a diploma but also with a plan.
To see how we can help you better support your students and drive state, district, and school initiatives with greater ease, transparency, and data, feel free to contact our specialists today!
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