Improving Student Career Planning to Increase Graduation Rates

Why student career planning needs to start early and embrace an inclusive approach to individual achievement

Sixth grade is not too early to introduce age-appropriate exercises and have conversations about planning for the future. Making the connection between activities, courses, and social dynamics at school and learning how to navigate them in an intentional way provide students with a template upon which to build. This scaffolded approach to thoughtful, inclusive decision-making gives students an advantage as they move through each grade level—and when the time comes to make the bigger decisions regarding the path that they choose to take after high school.

This kind of strategy also lends itself to a strength-based philosophy, where every student has an opportunity to truly get to know themselves and their skill sets, abilities, and aptitudes over time. When used in tandem with a high-quality technology platform such as Choices360, which has the capacity to collate students’ individualized information, school counselors and educators have access to relevant, real-time data, rather than the typical year-end assessment format that often includes too little and occurs far too late.

As students deepen their self-understanding and educators begin to appreciate students’ individual learning styles and strengths, dialog and social interaction become more meaningful. This helps build strong relationships, which keeps students engaged with their learning and contributes to better graduation rates as a result of their ability to make purposeful decisions during secondary school. Engagement and student persistence motivate students to continue their studies.

When looking forward, ninth grade is a pivotal year for young people. It is a period when expectations, responsibility, and peer influence at school significantly increase. Ninth graders are also imbued with a new sense of independence, combined with less parental supervision. While all these dynamics are at play, ninth graders may experience a sense of alienation or fear as a result of leaving familiar schools, friends, and environments behind. New schedules, rigorous classes, and elevated expectations require vigilance and nuanced systems of support to identify students at risk to better ensure that they reach graduation.

Tracking attendance, course failures, and statistics around demographics are gauges that help school counselors and educators identify students who are more likely to be at risk of not graduating from high school. They must carve out the time to share information during student transitions and let technology step in and play a role. Paying attention to the paradox of low expectations and checking biases at the door enable all students to thrive and educators to deliver an expansive approach to achievement and promote inclusive education.

Nowadays, having a high school diploma is required to get any kind of job. The paradigm around dropping out of high school needs to shift the onus from students who have failed (in what, in many cases, are antiquated systems designed to weed out students who could not make the cut) to the reasons that schools are failing them. To do this, expanding the narrative around what it means to be successful in high school and the ability to harness the motivations and interests of unique students and foster them are necessary. Having the resources to do this, including a high-quality technology platform like Choices360, gives schools the capacity to positively affect graduation rates and ensure that every student has a post-secondary plan in place.

There are several strategies that schools can incorporate into their daily curricular activities to keep more students engaged in learning and prevent attrition:

  • Help students generate connections between who they are and who they can become, showing them how school is relevant to realizing their aspirations.
  • Expose students to the vast array of choices.
  • Encourage mindful exploration.
  • Teach and guide students to self-reflect.
  • Ensure decision-making as the result of a deliberate and thoughtful process.
  • Engage all learning styles to provide meaningful student career planning and curricular decisions.
  • Provide learning opportunities that tap into the vast array of skill sets expressed in the learning environment (partnerships with business, apprenticeships, internships, college courses, trades, etc.).
  • Treat all the post-secondary options (military, career, community college, technical training, trade school, four-year college, etc.) as first-rate choices.

Modern classrooms reflect a wide variety of social and cultural characteristics and a vast array of skill sets, interests, abilities, and aptitudes. Choices360 is a high-quality technology platform designed to support school counselors and students by casting a wide net around curricular decision-making and student career planning, all while maintaining high standards to ensure that the needs of every student are met.

Learning environments that incorporate Choices360 take a modern approach to education that promotes inclusiveness, sets a positive tone for every learner, and does a great job of meeting the needs of every student to ensure the best graduation rates.

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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