Designated programs should be structured around clear and detailed student academic pathways from secondary and post-secondary education with regard to coursework, sequencing, and experiences beyond the classroom. Given this pathway, students should be expected to complete at least twelve college credits that count towards a post-secondary credential. Programs should also offer students substantive exposure to career opportunities in high demand fields, allowing them to make an informed decision about which career pathway to pursue. Students should also be exposed to the authentic experience and academic rigor of post-secondary education. This would require validating that courses are as rigorous as college level courses offered on campuses. Further, programs should prioritize allowing students to take at least one or more courses on college and university campuses where possible, and otherwise offer experiences intended to acculturate students to the post-secondary experience.
Guided academic pathways ensure that students experience coherence, clarity and connection as to their path, but flexibility as to their exploration. These pathways also ensure that young people develop identities as college going students. As a corollary, we hope for a similar combination of innovation and structure with regard to early college program design itself. Early college designation will not require that a pathway be in a specific field (nor is such specificity precluded), although designation expectations require that students will, at a minimum, be educated as to their post-secondary education, career options and the connection between both.
Dr. Danielle Tallent, Chief Learning Officer at NS4ed, shares how to use Labor Market Information (LMI) and career pathways to prepare students for employment success.