Many of us have experienced it–the anxiety and uneasiness when thinking about college and career plans. I, like many others, spent several months researching my options for college in hopes of finding a suitable institution to help me prepare for my desired career path. Above all, I wondered if I was truly prepared to handle these future endeavors.
But, preparing for the future doesn’t have to be as intimidating for your students. Here are a few valuable college and career readiness skills you can teach your students to assist them as they embark on their professional journeys.
As students enter college and later, careers, independence becomes crucial to their success. They must be responsible for themselves, their time, and their work. To help students prepare for this transition, encourage them to begin taking steps towards independence, such as:
- Applying for a part-time job and working during the school year or breaks.
- Applying for a learner’s permit and practicing how to drive.
- Keeping track of important dates and deadlines with a calendar or agenda book.
- Learning how to prepare well-balanced meals.
Small steps toward independence can help students prepare to handle situations when they’re on their own. Students may also feel better equipped to complete tasks in their workplaces, where they may be expected to work independently with little direction.
Students will feel less overwhelmed if they know what tasks they should accomplish first and how much time to allocate to each. An activity you can do in your class to help your students learn how to prioritize is having them create a Long-Term To-Do List:
- If your students plan on applying for college or jobs, have them research which colleges or jobs they would like to apply for in the near future.
- Ask them to create a list of these college or job applications in order of priority based on what is required for the applications and their deadlines.
- To follow up this activity, check in with your students periodically to see how well they are balancing their priorities from their To-Do lists.
3. Critical Thinking
Although critical thinking is a common standard throughout schools, it is still important to emphasize the importance of critical thinking in the workplace too. An activity you can try out with your students to further practice critical thinking is having them pretend they are an employee of an imaginary sandwich shop named ‘Sammy’s Sandwiches.’ Ask them to use critical thinking to solve this issue the shop is facing:
Scenario: Sammy’s Sandwiches has been in the same neighborhood for over twenty years. It is a local favorite and still very popular. But, a popular chain restaurant that also sells sandwiches is opening a new location across the street from Sammy’s Sandwiches. What should Sammy’s Sandwiches do to prevent losing many of its current customers to the new chain restaurant?
The students can work together in groups or individually to think of possible solutions for this issue. This activity will allow them to practice critical thinking within a professional setting. Being able to consider multiple aspects of an issue and devise effective solutions may help students better face potential challenges in their future careers.
Teamwork makes the dream work! Teams are heavily utilized in college and in the workplace, so your students must understand how to effectively collaborate with their peers to reach an established goal. Consider incorporating games and competitive group activities in your classroom, such as having teams of students work together to use an equal amount of marshmallows and toothpicks to build the tallest structure. Whichever team’s structure is the tallest, wins!
The students can work together to accomplish a fun goal while learning how to communicate, collaborate, and compromise. You can further emphasize this skill with a digital approach. EVERFI’s Keys to Your Future course for high school students offers a lesson focused on the benefits of collaboration and teamwork, in addition to other vital college and career readiness skills.
Making personal connections with people from various backgrounds and careers can lead to excellent career opportunities. The earlier your students begin to network, the better. Encourage your students to reach out to professionals in their field of interest, and teach them how to respectfully contact these professionals. Here’s a step-by-step process they can use to develop their network:
- Have them look around for professional contacts through family members, teachers, coaches, friends, LinkedIn, or a Google search for a company in their desired industry.
- Students can then send an email or a LinkedIn message to the professionals they would like to connect with.
- In each email or message, they should include their name, their college or career plans, and what skillsets they currently possess or would like to possess.
This process ensures that they have a strong network by the time they are ready to enter college and future careers. Through their network, they can learn of internships, shadowing experiences and jobs that they may not have heard about otherwise.
Take some time in your class to discuss these important college and career readiness skills so your students can feel empowered and ready to face their future plans. If you would like a digital resource to help you further emphasize these skills to your students, utilize EVERFI’s Keys To Your Future. The course offers engaging modules that allow students to practice and apply their college and employability skills.