By Kim Cook, Executive Director, National College Access Network
There are many key moments in a student’s path through education to career when postsecondary preparation and persistence intersect with career preparation. For example:
- Career exploration in middle or high school can reinforce students’ postsecondary aspirations and encourage them to prepare for admission to a college or other postsecondary program.
- Choice of college major, often based on a career goal, influences a student’s choice of postsecondary institutions, which in turn has a significant influence on whether a student persists and completes a postsecondary credential.
- Acquisition of noncognitive skills and work experience during high school and college can increase both college access/completion and employment.
The reality is, you cannot separate college access and success from career preparation. We at NCAN view this work on career readiness as the “next frontier” in our field, much as we have made the pivot from college access to college success during the past several years.
Thanks to a generous one-year grant of $400,000 from USA Funds®, NCAN looks forward to providing additional professional development and services to our more than 400 member organizations, related to helping underrepresented students graduate from high school prepared to succeed both in college and on the job. NCAN member organizations include national and community-based nonprofits, scholarship providers, school districts and charter schools, colleges and universities, state agencies and foundations.
Our 2016 membership survey found that NCAN member organizations rank career success as one of their top interest areas for increased professional development. They want to learn more about how to identify in-demand local careers, recommend effective courses of study, and provide more opportunities for students to gain key skills that employers value.
NCAN will provide the college access and success community with professional development and learning opportunities that:
- Make the intersection of college and career success more explicit.
- Communicate related research.
- Highlight successful programs already making the college success-career connection.
- Share tools that make program implementation easier.
This capacity building will provide the resources member organizations can use to better support effective career-related practices for students.
Member services will include:
- Related newsletter articles.
- Blog posts.
- White papers.
- E-learning units.
- Quarterly video chats.
- A continuation of NCAN’s Benchmarking Project measuring postsecondary success of students served by member organizations.
NCAN will hold 2017 Spring Training regional meetings in Indianapolis, Phoenix, Houston and Providence, R.I., addressing the topic of Connecting College and Career Success. September’s national conference in San Diego will offer a pre-conference workshop and conference track.
The Connecting College and Career Success initiative will extend the definition of student success to encompass a successful launch into a rewarding career following graduation. We believe it will encourage more students to commit to postsecondary education, develop a more purposeful path through college, and complete a postsecondary credential on time and equipped with the skills to enter a career that offers a sustainable way of life following graduation.