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Career Development
Career guidance and development activities can help students achieve in school and make a successful transition to college.

Drawing Connections

Career development activities draw connections between academic work in high school and a student’s future. They can make it clear how high school academics lay the groundwork for future study or employment in a student’s field of interest. They can also make academics more interesting and relevant for students.
  • School-Based Career Development: A Synthesis of the Literature (Hughes and Karp, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2004) [WORD]
    Report that finds school-based career programs help students connect current actions to future goals (especially middle school students), and recommends additional research.

  • The Relationship between Career Development and Educational Development: A Selected Review of the Literature (Blustein, Boston College, 2004) [WORD]
    Concludes that there is research support for the idea that students who understand the connection between school and career “will be better prepared psychologically to engage fully in their educational lives.”

  • Career Development Interventions and Academic Self-Efficacy and Motivation: A Pilot Study (NCCTE, 2003)
    Evaluation of whether career development interventions affect a student's academic motivation. The study found that none of the 44 interventions studied affected academic motivation. However, the interventions studied were minimal, and the authors recommend additional research using "increased dosages" of career development interventions to see if more intense programs have a positive effect on student academic motivation.
High School Success

Career guidance and development activities are essential components of some of the most innovative and successful high school programs around the country.
  • Career Academies focus a rigorous program of study around an occupational theme. Students complete requirements for college while seeing how their studies relate to life after high school. Career Academies also feature strong partnerships with business groups and postsecondary institutions, so students have clear pathways to follow after graduation.

    • Career Academy Support Network
      Provides resources and support for career academies in high schools nationwide.

    • MDRC Career Academy Evaluation
      MDRC has been conducting a long-term evaluation of career academies to see how they differ from regular high school programs; what effect they have on student attendance, motivation and achievement; and how they affect students’ ability to get good jobs after graduation.

    • BioTech Academy: Challenging Assumptions and Changing Lives (GLEF)
      Andrew P. Hill High School’s medical magnet school, the BioTech Academy (San Jose, California), successfully engages students at the margins by helping them focus on the future.

  • Charter Schools are small schools with innovative programs and teaching methods that can help high school students get a rigorous education plus skills they’ll need for jobs or college.

    • An MBA for Kids (Minnesota)
      Minnesota Business Academy incorporates business concepts into every aspect of the curriculum, helping students develop their skills in research, projection, modeling (both computer and physical) and teamwork. The school has close ties with the local business community, which helps with curriculum and provides opportunities for internships and foreign travel.

    • Charter High School for Architecture and Design (Philadelphia)
      “The Charter High School for Architecture + Design is dedicated to providing a college preparatory education within a supportive community that fosters learning and individual growth through the process of design.”

    • High Tech High (San Diego)
      “A small, diverse learning community with a current enrollment of 400 students, HTH is founded on three design principles: personalization, adult-world connection, and a common intellectual mission. Innovative features include performance-based assessment, daily shared planning time for staff, state-of-the-art technical facilities for project-based learning, internships for all students, and close links to the high tech workplace.”

  • High Schools That Work
    HSTW features rigorous academic curriculum combined with high-level vocational/technical instruction (“using high-level mathematics, science, language arts and problem-solving skills”) and work-based learning. Students are expected to achieve, and they receive the help and guidance they need to do so.

  • ProTech (Boston Private Industry Council)
    Protech is a structured program for high school students featuring rigorous academic and career classes, paid internships in expanding industries (e.g., medical fields) and links to postsecondary education leading to a professional credential.

  • Career Development and Occupational Studies
    New York State has integrated career development and occupational studies into its learning standards for all students.
Preparing for Lifelong Learning

Starting career development early also helps instill the idea that career management is a lifelong process. This is particularly important in the new economy, where people can expect to change jobs and perhaps even careers many times.
  • National Career Development Guidelines
    The National Career Development Guidelines describe the personal competencies individuals should have to successfully manage their careers throughout their lives. The NCDG section of this website describes this competency framework, and includes a host of resources for students, parents, teachers, counselors and administrators on developing career management skills. There are also interactive quizzes to test your current level of competency.

  • Career Management Paradigm Shift: Prosperity for Citizens, Windfall for Governments (Jarvis, National Life/Work Centre, Canada, 2003) [WORD]
    In the new economy, career management skills are as important as academic and technical skills. People can expect to go through many job changes, and can learn to make flexibility and adaptability key personal assets.

  • Strategies for Vocational Guidance in the 21st Century (International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance, UK, 1999)
    Describes the changing world of work and outlines how vocational and career counseling can help young people and adults get the skills they need manage their careers over a lifetime.