Knowing what you truly want to gain from your college experience is the first step toward achieving it. But reaching your goals doesn’t necessarily mean you are college and career ready. Ultimately, college and career readiness means that you have content knowledge and the ability to build upon that knowledge in solving problems.
Knowing what you truly want to gain from your college experience is the first step toward achieving it. But reaching your goals doesn’t necessarily mean you are college and career ready.
What does it mean to be ready for college and a career? In general, you are a college- and career-ready student if you have gained the necessary knowledge, skills, and professional behaviors to achieve at least one of the following:
For example, if you are studying for a skilled trade license in college, or perhaps pursuing a bachelor of arts degree, you are college-ready if you have the reading, writing, mathematics, social, and thinking skills to qualify for and succeed in the academic program of your choice.
Similarly, you are a career-ready student if you have the necessary knowledge and technical skills needed to be employed in your desired field. For example, if you are a community college student ready to be a nurse, you possess the knowledge and skill needed to secure an entry-level nursing position, and you also possess required licensing.
Ultimately, college and career readiness demands students know more than just content, but demonstrate that they know how to learn and build upon that content to solve problems. They must develop versatile communication skills, work collaboratively and
work competitively in a school or work environment. Ensuring that you possess both the academic and technical know-how necessary for a career beyond the classroom is a great step toward succeeding on whatever path you choose.
—Washington, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education
So where are you on the readiness scale? You can find out how your state measures your readiness. Visit the Interactive State Map at the College and Career Readiness and Success Center of the American Institutes for Research Web site. The map leads you to definitions of college and career readiness for your state. It also provides metrics to measure readiness. And it provides information about programs and structures to help you and educators.
In the following video, a number of high school students and recent graduates reflect on college and career readiness and their futures. As you view the video, be thinking about how your short-term goals can connect with longer-range ambitions. You might also reflect on how your deepening experiences in college can lead to achieving your longer-term goals. After all, each new experience in your life builds upon the last. You may never truly “arrive” at a destination if indeed your life is an ongoing journey.
Is “public employment” preparation still the goal of higher education institutions today? Indeed, it is certainly one of the many goals! College is also an opportunity for students to grow personally and intellectually. In fact, in a 2011 Pew Research
Center survey, Americans were split on their perceptions of the main purpose of a college education:
These statistics are understandable in light of the great reach and scope of higher education institutions. Today, there are some 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States, offering every manner of education and training to students.
What do employers think about the value of a college education? What skills do employers seek in their workforce? In 2014, Hart Research Associates conducted a survey on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The survey revealed that the majority of employers believe that having field-specific knowledge as well as a broad range of knowledge and skills is important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success.
Employers also said that when they hire, they place the greatest value on skills and knowledge that cut across all majors. The learning outcomes they rate as most important include written and oral communication skills, teamwork skills, ethical decision-making, critical thinking, and the ability to apply knowledge in real-world settings.
Consider, too, the following statistics on employment rates and salaries for college graduates. College does make a big difference!
Perhaps most important, an overwhelming majority of college graduates—86 percent—say that college has been a good investment for them personally. (PEW)
You may wish to research how earnings for college graduates vs. high school–only graduates in your state compare with those in other states. All in all, college imparts a wide and deep range of benefits. The short video Why College, below, shows that with a college degree you are more likely to:
Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered in the section. This short quiz does not count toward your grade, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.
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