Designated programs should expose students to a variety of career opportunities including greater depth in careers relevant to their selected pathway, for example, by providing opportunities for targeted workforce and career skills development, career counseling, and elements of experiential and workplace learning.
This guiding principle dictates that designated early college programs should be designed to support college and career readiness such that students are expected to develop awareness of their educational growth and development while understanding the manner in which their educational path is connected to career opportunities. This connection should be framed broadly, to allow students to explore career possibilities and to more generally develop foundational employability skills necessary to thrive in any work environment.
Understanding the economic environment of the geographic area which the early college serves provides educators valuable information about what careers are in high-demand. This allows educators to build career and college pathways and partnerships that reflect the realities of the workplace. Awareness of job demands can help early college programs link with high-demand area businesses, which are open to providing operational support for the program. Industry sector strategies have the potential to provide a unifying vision of post-secondary courses and pathways beginning in high school – an early college high school.
Hans Meeder, President and Founder of The National Center for College and Career Transitions (NC3T), offers specific action steps that education leaders and influencers can take to adopt a Career Connected Learning mindset.