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College and career readiness is an important component of the mission of any K-12 institution. After all, school districts want to graduate students who are ready and able to succeed beyond high school at the post-secondary level or in the workplace. Districts often highlight mission statements that include readiness for the next level, and they focus coursework on preparing students for what lies ahead.
The emphasis in recent years on more rigorous academic standards is one method of helping to prepare students for college and careers. The United States Department of Education points out that nearly 1/3 of students who matriculate to college must take remedial coursework. K-12 institutions have worked to move beyond a focus on basic skills and ensure that students graduate with the skills they need to succeed in college and career.
Students face challenging coursework at the college level, and in the workplace, they face situations that call for independent thinking, problem solving, and analysis skills. The good news is that K-12 academic standards — including the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) — are increasingly rigorous, with a focus on problem solving and analysis skills. States and school districts across the United States have implemented higher standards and rigorous assessments to ensure that students are achieving at levels that align with what will be expected of them when they transition to college and careers.
So, a focus on the knowledge and academic skills that students will need to face challenges as they transition to college and career is likely already an important part of your district’s vision. But is that enough? If you prepare them academically, will you ensure the success of your students at the next level? What else might they need? The fact is that many students who are academically well-prepared and high-achieving do not do well in college or as they transition to their first jobs. Academic preparation is not enough. To truly prepare students for college and career, districts need to do more.
The Center for Academic Success at The University of Alabama notes several common causes for failure in college. Among these are issues such as not having a clear understanding of long-term goals or plans for the future, choosing a major that is not appropriate, and even choosing a college that is not well aligned to the student or to his/her future plans. In addition, students often let other activities or a lack of self-monitoring—of time and work habits—derail their success. In addition, many students who transition to college and career encounter obstacles and failure for the first time in their lives. Those who graduate from high school having never experienced failure, or been taught how to handle failure without falling back on teachers and parents, will likely struggle in college regardless of how well-prepared they are academically simply because the first year of college is often a difficult transition for students.
So, as you craft a vision for student achievement in the short-and long-term, your district’s resources should include how you will prepare students with the academic skills — as well as the life skills — they will need to succeed at the post-secondary level. This is where our LifePlan Laboratories curriculum is essential for K-12 schools. Our curriculum is uniquely focused on the needs of students as they begin to consider and prepare for college, make the transition to college, and then make the transition from college to career. You are already working to prepare them academically. Allow LifePlan Laboratories to work with you to foster the life skills your students will need to succeed at the next level.
Our curriculum is designed to support students as early as the 9th grade, and it can be configured in several different ways to meet the needs of our school or district. Schools may choose to begin the curriculum with 9th graders, or deliver lesson more frequently in the junior and/or senior year. In the curriculum, we walk students through the development of a comprehensive success plan that will follow them from high school, to college, and into their first job. The curriculum is divided into three broad areas—before college, during college, and after college. Our curriculum helps students reflect on some of the very barriers that colleges have identified as factors that lead to failure. For example, early in the curriculum, students will reflect on the importance of establishing a vision and framework for their future. In addition, students will be asked to consider their goals as they contemplate choosing a major and a college that best fits with their framework. Students will engage with a range of relevant topics, including developing a success mindset, encountering failures, and managing a range of financial issues from paying for college all the way to receiving those first paychecks. The three broad areas allow students to engage with topics that are relevant as they plan for college, enter college, and then transition from college to the workplace.
Our curriculum materials include approximately 40 topics related to life skills necessary for success in college and early careers, such as embracing failure, cultivating a focused mindset, and defining your overall vision. Lessons related to these topics can be delivered in a variety of ways, and we encourage schools and districts to think about how to best meet the needs of your students as you integrate our curriculum. Some may choose to use these lessons as part of a mentoring or academic advisement program. Others may choose to offer an elective course using the lessons, while others may choose to integrate the lessons into an existing course. Our curriculum can be delivered via traditional written lesson plans or via our website, which allows for additional customization, personalized learning, and self-pacing. In addition, applicable topics provides a connection to the Common Core State Standards for ELA and mathematics by asking students to synthesize and reflect on the information they have read about the topic. Thus, the LifePlan Laboratories curriculum can be easily incorporated into courses that are currently offered to students as part of their overall graduation requirements, or used separately as part of an elective course or other program.
Our mission at LifePlan Laboratories is to help students proactively plan for success, instead of continuing to incur college debts while floundering toward an uncertain future. We believe that in addition to academic preparation, students need to be exposed to topics that will help them build a life plan and the life skills necessary to succeed at the post-secondary level and beyond. You already have a strong vision for student achievement and success. Consider helping your students develop the life skills necessary via the LifePlan Labs comprehensive curriculum as a part of your district’s vision for their success.
Bigger, J.J. (2005). Improving the odds for freshman success. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web Site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Advising-first-year-students.aspx
The University of Alabama. (n.d.). Causes for failure in college. The Center for Academic Success. Retrieved from causesoffailure.htm