Senior year is extremely stressful, not only for a student, but for parents too. It doesn’t have to be! As senior year is approaches, big decisions loom. What should you do with the rest of your life? Go to college or go into the workforce? You have no idea what you want to do or who you want to be. Your parents say, “You have to go to college.” How do you know which one, or if college is even the right choice for you?
Sound familiar? Wish you had started thinking about this earlier? Studies have shown that the earlier a student explores life after high school, the better informed they will be to make good choices for the future.
As children, we are encouraged to explore and learn how to play instruments and sports. Through the process of elimination, we quickly discover what we enjoy, and what we don’t, what we are good at, and most of all what makes us happy.
Starting the journey for life after high school can be approached in the same way – as early as middle school. Not only is it fun, but eventually leads to lots of “Aha!” moments along the way.
The challenge of education is immense. The climate today is more complicated in many ways – in part due to remote access to student support resources and the ever-changing job landscape – making it difficult for students and counselors to understand. Couple that with resources sprinkled around the internet that students are supposed to find and piece together.
There has been a major push across the country to help students discover the key to a successful future. There is also a great need to level the playing field. Students come from a wide array of socioeconomic backgrounds and not all students are provided with the same access to counselors and mentors. Using technology to bridge this gap is a good first step to reducing this disparity.
The impact of starting post high school research too late is significant for students, higher education institutions, and employers. Starting earlier can lead to better-informed students when it comes to selecting majors that might align better with their life paths. A student attending a college or university might experience better outcomes if he or she pursues a major aligned with what they see themselves doing in the future. Employers might see a greater return from their investment and training of a new employee if the employee is hired in a field they would enjoy. From our observations, younger students are interested in exploring options. Pathway by FolderWave supports this journey and is structured to guide students from middle school through high school – all in the same application.
Several educators have shared their excitement on Pathway by FolderWave. Carolyn Blair, Counseling Services Director at Clayton High in Clayton, Missouri describes the Pathways by FolderWave platform as “…the most comprehensive solution she has seen anywhere.”
In a recent discussion with Phil Solomon, Director of Secondary Schools at West Warwick High School in Rhode Island, currently using Pathway said “the assignments are more concrete, and the tool helps motivate the students, especially getting the middle schoolers in the right head space to guide them.”
Pathway guides students throughout their secondary school career through a portal of ongoing exploration. Students can shape their future, while learning key skills for the path to adulthood. The journey starts with fun skills inventory tests that reveal what careers may interest students based on the answers they provide. Interests and skills that “stand out” can then lead the way to career exploration, exposing the careers available based on their individual interests. This process will ultimately help narrow down the college or alternative future opportunities search. Pathway also introduces students early to the importance of financial literacy and teaches essential skills such as budgeting, college cost comparison, college cost calculations, and a basic understanding of wants versus needs.
Phil went on to say “Using Pathway has been especially helpful with remote learners, since they are on a hybrid schedule. The kids are kind of in limbo when working from home; now they have assignments they can work on independently. Learning how to be self-directed is important in remote learning, not just during this pandemic, but anytime. In Pathway they are always able to work on something. Pathway is tailor made for remote learning.”
Students too are responding with enthusiasm…
Grade 6 – female– “I think that Pathways is a great website. Even though I am still young and really don’t know what I want to do when I get older, Pathways helped me get a better understanding of different jobs. I think it’s a great website.”
High School Student: “The site is so user friendly and fun to work with!”
Pamela Brennan, Executive Director of Client Success at FolderWave whose role is to be the voice of the customer, stated “I work very closely with educators and students that are using Pathway. Observing their excitement as they navigate through the platform confirms that our approach is working! We listen to the end users, which has resulted in a superior product. I’ve walked away from many training sessions, focus groups, and Pathway roll-out events with affirmation that Pathway is tool of the future for college and career planning.”