Connecting College and Career Success

Connecting College and Career Success

“There are many key moments when postsecondary preparation and persistence intersect with career preparation. Career exploration in middle or high school, an effective choice of college major and postsecondary institution, working during college, and the acquisition of non-cognitive skills can all improve rates of college access and completion as well as employment for our students.” – Kim Cook, NCAN Executive Director

Thanks to a generous one-year grant from  Strada Education Network, NCAN looks forward to providing professional development and member services for helping underrepresented students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in both college and a career.

College access and success cannot be separated from career preparation. NCAN views this work as the "next frontier" for our field, much as we have made the pivot from college access to college success in the last several years. To help members begin to think about incorporating career readiness services into their programming, we will share tools and resources that make the college success/career intersections more explicit, highlight successful programs that are already making the college success/career connection, and build capacity to make this pivot smoother. 

We will continue to build out this website with resources throughout the year. We encourage you to visit this page often to see what’s new.

Definition of College and Career Readiness
There are many but most definitions point to ensuring that students are prepared to be successful in the postsecondary pursuit of their choosing. For many NCAN members, this means ensuring that high school graduates are prepared for a full range of postsecondary opportunities, but this could also apply to adult learners. Many states have developed very explicit definitions of college and career readiness that specify the knowledge, skills, and abilities students must demonstrate in order to meet state standards. These definitions address areas such as:

  • academic preparedness
  • critical thinking and problem solving
  • social and emotional learning
  • communication and working in teams
  • community involvement and citizenship
  • grit and perseverance

Some states require that students explore their postsecondary interests and make personalized plans to determine how to achieve them. Few mention very specific workforce preparation skills such as resume writing, interviewing skills, or internships.

As we continue to explore this area, NCAN will be working closely with our members to not only develop a definition that is relevant for their students and community but also to determine the role members should play in ensuring the implementation of this definition.

NCAN Spring Training 2017
This year’s Spring Training focused on Connecting College and Career Success. These day-long “mini-conferences” took place on the following dates/locations:

March 22: Phoenix, AZ
March 29: Houston, TX
April 4: Indianapolis, IN
April 12: Providence, RI

Following the Spring Training series, NCAN released Connecting College and Career Success: Lessons on Advising, Data, and Partnerships.

Tools and Resources
Below are some of the tools and resources NCAN has curated to help members learn more about this topic and think through their role in ensuring students are college and career ready. Programs may decide to expand their service offerings to include career readiness or partner with a local organization that already provides these services to ensure their students can access them. In all cases, we believe the goal of this work is to equip all students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to make an informed choice about the postsecondary path they would like to pursue.


  • Achieve does work in the area of college and career readiness. Their website includes information on college and career readiness standards, assessments, graduation requirements and accountability mechanisms. The site includes a number of resources that represent the business perspective including a set of resources for businesses to help them think through how to best support college and career readiness for all students.
  • The College and Career Readiness Center at the American Institutes of Research (CCRS) is funded by the US Department of Education to serve the Regional Comprehensive Centers in building the capacity of states to effectively implement initiatives for college and career readiness and success. They have numerous briefs, an interactive state map that compares college and career readiness policies, and a blog that are well worth reviewing. This website will definitely help you stay up to date on goings on in the field of college and career readiness.
  • Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) studies the link between education, career qualifications, and workforce demands. The Center conducts research in three core areas with the goal of better aligning education and training with workforce and labor market demand: jobs, skills, and people. Their website includes publications and a blog, as well as a diversity initiative with interactive tools on the economic value of college majors (profiled below) and a state initiative that is helping states improve the alignment between education and its economy.
  • New America has created a website called Atlas that aggregates information from a number of their education policy initiatives. Their interactive Mapping College Ready Policies 2015-2016 provides an interesting overview of which states have college and career ready policies, definitions, and assessments.  Their Education Policy area in general has informative newsletters and blogs that often address the topic of college and career readiness and success. We expect to see more on this issue from New America in 2017.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce mobilizes the business community to be more engaged partners and connect education and workforce reforms to economic development. The site includes a blog, the Achieving Tomorrow state-by-state education data and standards website, publications (one of which is profiled below,) and information on the Launch My Career websites, profiled below.

Research, Documents, and Tools 

NCAN Blog Posts and Newsletter Stories

NCAN Webinars

  • Introduction to Career Success Webinar: Conducted on 12/14/16, this webinar provided an overview of the project funded by USA Funds and solicited input from members on what they’d like to learn on this topic.
  • Partnership for the Future Webinar: Conducted on 1/19/17, this webinar provided an overview of the work of NCAN member, Partnership for the Future, that operates aprivately-funded workforce development-college preparatory program in Virginia. PFF’s President and CEO, Charleita M. Richardson discussed how her program connects students with community business partners to provide them with meaningful internships that ease the transition from high school to college to the workplace.
  • Genesys Works Houston Webinar. Conducted on 1/24/17, this webinar provided an overview of the work of NCAN member Genesys Works Houston, a non profit  career coaching and college access program operating in  5 cities across the country. The webinar discussed how the program Genesys empowers high school students from challenged backgrounds to achieve college and career success through skills training and meaningful work experiences. 
  • On Point for College Webinar. Conducted on 2/8/17, this webinar provided an overview of the work of NCAN member On Point for College, a nonprofit, that serves traditional and non-traditional, 17- to 29-year-old students by breaking down barriers through access to training, college, and careers for success in life. This webinar discussed how their program develops and cultivates the relationships to change the lives of traditional and non-traditional students and how they built their career success programming.
  • Students Rising Above Webinar. Conducted on 3/22/17. Students Rising Above provides scholarships, comprehensive advising, and wrap-around support for low-income students from high school, to and through college. When SRA saw too many of its graduates returning to their communities to work in occupations that did not require a college degree, they realized that college alone was not enough. In 2010, SRA began incorporating career development services, which now see 85% of SRA students securing career-ladder jobs within 9 months of college graduation. This webinar highlights how SRA developed its career success program with limited staff and resources and outlines specific actionable steps to help students gain professional skills and experience. View Webinar

  • Career Success Spotlight: Be a Leader Foundation. Conducted 6/20/17. The Be A Leader Foundation designs programs that provide a positive learning environment and a college-focused mentality for each participant to develop their high school and college educational plan (4 plus 4 plan). The work directly with middle school and high school students in primarily inner-city schools to engage them into active development of their self-esteem, leadership skills and long term preparation of their 4 plus 4 plan. Ultimate success is achieved through our long-term relationship and stewardship of their educational evolution from middle school into high school, culminating with active participation at the university level and ultimately a college degree. Join this webinar to learn about the ins and outs of BALF internship program along with how they build the corporate partnerships to make them possible.

  • The Opportunity Network Webinar. Conducted 6/28/17. This webinar will introduce you to The Opportunity Network's Career Fluency® HQ, a free online resource with the highest quality, ready-to-teach college success and career readiness instructional content for your front-line staff. In addition to a robust and dynamic set of curriculum, the platform offers an easy-to-use student outcomes tracking tool to help you identify students' knowledge gains. This webinar is most useful to program staff ready to start integrating more intentional and targeted career readiness programming into your core model. These resources will add the most value for organizations that are at the early stages of evolving your program services to align with the moving finish line from college success to career readiness.