From math and science to English, history, economics, gym, and other electives, high school provides students with many learning opportunities. But to what end? Is it to prepare students for college, for the world of work, or some other pathway?
If it’s for both college and work, a survey by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation suggests that high schools have room for improvement: eight out of ten respondents to the survey felt that high school got them ready for college, but only half felt that it gave them the skills to go to work.
One of the reasons could be that overworked counselors, who are facing an overwhelming ratio of students to counselors of 479:1 and declining resources, have enough to do when it comes to helping students with college prep, much less being able to support them in finding opportunities in apprenticeships, the military, technical schools, and careers.
But students and their families are changing. It’s hard to keep current, though technology may be providing part of the answer. The development of software tools such as Choices360 is making it easier. Choices360 is a career- and curriculum-planning tool that provides student-centered resources for better and more all-encompassing career planning.
It makes it easier to support students in their career explorations in several important ways. The software contributes to better long-term engagement of students in their studies as they pursue what they truly want, which leads to improved graduation rates, and subsequently, greater success and happiness. Here are a few ways that Careers360 can help counselors.
Start the Career Exploration Process Earlier
Most students complete interest and skills assessments in the first couple of years of high school, but activity picks up in the eleventh-grade year and is heavily weighted toward college planning.
But with more students pursuing options such as apprenticeships, technical schools, the military, or careers, there’s a need for a broader time horizon to build the appropriate educational credentials.
Choices 360 is geared for just that. This planning software from XAP is designed to engage with students who have four to six years to go before graduation.
This earlier planning creates a purpose, direction, and a process and is built around assessments so students can learn more about themselves as individuals.
Armed with that knowledge, students can use Choices360 to map career requirements to a four-year course plan relevant to their particular path, whether it’s college, career, or other.
Choices360 also encourages improved communication between students, parents, and counselors. It gives the latter the tools to dynamically provide new and different learning resources and change, rename, or reposition class sequences, as students move toward graduation.
Make Career Exploration Inclusive and Engaging for All Students
The need for a more accessible approach to career planning has become overwhelming. Six out of ten students pursue options that don’t require a four-year college degree. Choices360 includes resources that counselors can use to advise and encourage these students to follow non-college paths.
One factor is particularly important: helping counselors understand and track information about accreditation for non-four-year schools. Standards can be challenging to track in real time, and counselors need the tools to advise students and families on obtaining validated, accepted credentials.
Choices360, used by thousands of school districts nationally, provides a starting point for gathering details about basic requirements. For instance, counselors can find out what it takes to enter the military or gain entry into an apprenticeship program.
With this information, counselors have a renewed voice of authority on all potential post-high school paths. By giving students a voice in their planning and a goal in mind, Choices 360 improves engagement by getting students excited as they have their dreams validated.
Utilize Integrated College Planning Modules
Choices360 integrates the college application process in one platform, making it easier for counselors to track and monitor student progress. The program also offers a single portal for managing the college process. It enables users to:
- Track electronic applications via the Common App standardized interface
- Request and process academic transcripts
- Guide students in financial aid knowledge and planning
- Communicate and connect with students and parents
- View progress reports
The app is cloud-based, so it provides 24/7 access for improved efficiency.
Learn More about Choices360
Counselors are in a unique position to have a long-lasting impact on students by providing them with direction and support toward long-term success. Choices360 from XAP is built for students but maintains a clear understanding of the challenges facing counselors.
XAP’s team of education professionals is focused on providing tools that set the terms for an individual to obtain both a high school diploma and a plan for their 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!