How Educators Feel About Preparing Students for the Future During a Pandemic
Schools that emphasize the importance of building their students’ transition skills and social emotional learning have been linked to higher college attendance and retention. That’s one key finding discussed in our recent webinar, Trends in CCLR: Preparing Students for the Future, led by Hobsons Director of Thought Leadership Dr. Kim Oppelt.
The webinar — which was attended by nearly a thousand K-12 educators — unpacks the latest college, career, and life readiness trends drawn from Naviance. To get a sense for how educators feel they are doing in terms of preparing students for their future pathways, Dr. Oppelt asked four illuminating questions. What follows are the results.
Poll question #1: Do you feel your students are ahead, on track, or behind this year in their college planning process?
- Ahead: 2%
- Behind: 66%
- On track: 32%
Takeaways: Many schools and districts report feeling behind amid the challenges of the current pandemic. This is a particularly difficult year for college planning because virus protocol has limited many of the traditional aspects of planning. But COVID-19 does offer an opportunity for educators and administrators to hone technology and find innovative ways to connect with students.
Poll question #2: Is your school hosting fewer, more, or the same number of college visits this year?
- About the same: 28%
- Fewer visits: 54%
- More visits: 18%
Takeaways: Before the pandemic, average admission team visits were 83 per year per private high school and 70 per year per public high school. Traditionally, visits tend to be in the fall, during the morning, and in person. Now educators are hosting more virtual visits but struggling with low attendance and student engagement. This makes finding the universities and colleges that really speak to students’ interests and needs even more important. Tools like Hobsons’ Counselor Community can make finding those universities easier and scheduling visits quicker and more streamlined.
Poll question #3: When do you start career readiness lessons with students in your school or district?
- Elementary school: 32%
- High School: 28%
- Middle School: 40%
Takeaways: Even though students may seem young in elementary and middle school, this is the time to start helping them with career readiness. This is an important time of self-discovery, and it is when students should begin learning about careers and what they mean. The better students understand themselves and their own passions and interests, the better their education can be tailored to a pathway toward career success and fulfillment. Naviance data suggests that most students aspire to attend a four-year college, and — after academics and finances — the biggest obstacle to that pathway was making the wrong career choice.
Poll question #4: What CCLR competency do you feel your school or district needs to enhance?
- Academic Skills: 10%
- Career Knowledge: 40%
- College Knowledge: 15%
- Transition Skills: 47%
- Interpersonal Skills: 28%
- Social Emotional Learning: 40%
Note: Respondents could pick multiple answers; therefore, the percentages above do not add up to 100%, but reflect the percentage of respondents who selected each CCLR competency as a weakness.
Takeaways: School districts sometimes overlook transition skills but they are key to student success and needed throughout the student lifecycle, beginning in elementary school. Find out how Chicago Public Schools increased their college enrollment rate by 13% and decreased their summer melt rate by 20% through a plan aimed at supporting students through the many transitions between middle school, high school, and college.
From this data, we can conclude that social emotional learning is crucial to students’ long-term achievement and should be integrated into all college and career readiness programs. It is also clear that educators should dedicate themselves to helping students develop and practice their interpersonal as well as transition skills, and make a point to offer support along the way. By shifting more attention and resources toward these competencies, schools and districts can better prepare their students for success as they grow, learn, and — ultimately — embark on their chosen career and life pathways.