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COVID-19: Keeping Post-secondary Goals Top-of-Mind in K-12

COVID-19 has created a difficult environment to educate students. Key support services like the monitoring of post-secondary goals can fall by the wayside as schools focus on providing their core education services remotely, in a hybrid environment, or in person with safety precautions.

We’ve put together a guide on how your team can make sure that even during remote, hybrid, or in-person education, your students will receive excellent career and post-secondary guidance. 

Keep Post-secondary Goals Top-of-mind

It can be difficult to think about the future when day-to-day life feels uncertain. For students to stay motivated through day-to-day uncertainty their post-secondary goals should be top-of-mind. 

A 2016 Journal of School Administration Research and Development study saw that 69% of the students that participated in the study made adequate growth after setting their goals compared to only 60% prior to implementing the practice. This study concludes by stating:

“The key to establishing goals that produce results is making them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive. Furthermore, goals must be supported by a specific plan of action that outlines the steps to be taken to maximize success. Monitoring the progress of the plan ensures that activities being utilized are producing the desired outcomes. Lastly, celebrating the progress made by students reinforces the importance of effort and recognizes improvements.”

Setting post-secondary goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive; monitored for progress; and celebrated when progress has been made is the key to keeping academic engagement and graduation rates high.

Work Post-secondary Goal Planning into Courses and Advisory 

Now is not the time to set aside or give up on your students’ post-secondary planning. You’ll want to make sure that times are being set aside to get students working on their future.  

It’s vital that, if your school is going remote or hybrid, during this time students are thinking about their futures while completing their assigned coursework. 

We recommend building in some of the ideas below into your classes and advisory periods to promote career and college planning with students. 

Career Assessments

Typically, students need triggers to reach out to their guidance counselors; selecting classes, requesting transcripts, and college recommendations.

A great way to engage students early is with career assessments. In a course or during an advisory period, update current career assessments or take them and examine results

Career assessments are key in helping students plan for their futures. If you’re unfamiliar with career assessments, take a look at our career assessment guide that details the different kinds. 

Use online and digital resources that are mobile-ready

Online resources, that are mobile-ready, will give you readily available and accessible ways of engaging your students and aid them in thinking about their career goals.

Self-driven Career Activities

Below we put together a number of activities students can do on their own time and paced to best fit their schedules. 

  1. Put together their first resume: Sooner than many expect, students will need to make their first resume. Now is a perfect time to build the basics of how to format a resume and write clear bullet points.
  2. Volunteer and/or work on community service hours: Volunteering and community service is an incredible way to give back, build experience, and network. We view it as a pivotal post-secondary skill-building activity that has the bonus of qualifying students for scholarships and elite schools.
  3. Take extra classes or college courses: Now is a great time to get a jump start on general education courses for college or to dive deep into career skills. There are many different online providers for standalone courses and many schools have running start and dual enrollment programs. We’ve been working with NH’s VLACS and have found their programs are exactly what students are looking for.
  4. Learn a new relevant skill: Skills are becoming the number one thing employers look like. Below we compiled a list of in-demand skills career skills that students can learn now. These skills are particularly impactful as students can begin to freelance if they choose to master any.
Personal development
It’s always a good time to invest in yourself. Personal finance and language is another area students can focus on. 
Work experience

For students who may have more time outside of schools, now is the perfect time to gain some professional experience in the field they’re interested in. 

  1. Schedule informational interviews: One of the best ways students can learn more about a career they are interested in is informational interviews. We find professionals are often more than happy to set aside 45 minutes to speak with students about their careers and answer questions. This also helps students see what it looks like to pursue a career, which can augment their career goals.
  2. Virtual internships, apprenticeships, and projects: The number one thing that can help students prepare for their careers is hands-on experience. All students should be looking to identify virtual internships in areas they’re interested in to build out their resumes, develop their skills, and determine if that career field is right for them. If your school needs resources to set up work-based learning, be sure to look at Awato’s full suite
Activities students for college-bound students

For students who are focused on college after graduation, now is a great time to do preparation work. 

  1. Virtual tours:  While students may not be able to go to campuses in person, they can visit over 600 campuses virtually. Below they can watch video tours to give them an idea of what colleges may be best for them. 
  2. Prep applications and essays: Applying for college is a long process for all students. Now is a great time to advise students to get a jump on things. Many students could use any free time to reflect on key moments of their high school experience so far and begin to write their college essays. 
  3. Look for scholarships: The cost of education ranks number one in fears for college-bound students. Now is a great time for students to look through scholarships, understand requirements, and apply!
  4. SAT/ ACT prep: While many schools are beginning to move away from standardized testing, if a student wants to get into the most elite schools, they’ll need to do well on the SAT or ACT. Now is a good time to practice. The hard part is that many prep courses aren’t engaging for students. So we’re recommending two gamified ways to keep students engaged and having fun while learning: 
      1. NY Times Vocab games
      2. Math Games

Things Your School Can Do

Now is a good time to think about how you can move the needle for students without creating more of a burden on counselors and teachers. Two things we recommend are: 

Free Video resources
  1. Identifying free resources: Izzit provides thousands of educational videos to schools across the country at no cost. 
Local Resource Mapping

Do all your students know all the opportunities available to them in their area?

We find one of the biggest challenges facing districts and students is awareness gaps. There are large gaps between what is available to students and the opportunities in which they participate.

From CTE programs and apprenticeships to after school programs, communities often develop valuable resources for students that go underutilized. 

Now is a good time to identify all of the opportunities, map them to careers, and recommend the correct opportunities to the right students based on their goals. 

Want to move the needle without staff time impact?

If you want to start to implement some or all of these strategies, but you’re concerned about increasing graduation rates and academic engagement without impacting staff work hours, now is the right time to schedule a meeting with Awato. 


Keep post-secondary goals top-of-mind with Awato. Watch a demo

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