College & Career Options

Immersing a school in rich career development experiences for a wide variety of career options opens up a world of possibilities for every student. Life-long learning is necessary for long-term career success and is essential for student growth. This growth begins in elementary school and continues throughout adulthood.

What do you need to know?

Student self-confidence in their abilities to succeed after high school can be encouraged early in their education. By creating a postsecondary going culture, all students will have the necessary vocabulary and skills needed to pursue education and training confidently after high school.

Awareness of postsecondary education, training and career options doesn’t just happen, it needs to be integrated into the culture of a school.  It takes intentional school-wide planning to develop this culture at every grade level.  Through embedding college and career vocabulary, experiences and expectations into every aspect of the school, students see that planning for after high school isn’t just an option but is rather an expectation. The Nebraska Career Development Model provides the framework for school-wide planning.

Defining “college and career options to include all varieties of postsecondary education and training” is essential as students begin their career journey.  In our current economy, it is important to dispel the myth that everyone must take the same path to career success.  All options are a way to learn and gain skills.  Different career goals require different preparation.

When a student is well versed in career planning, that student can confidently pursue the most appropriate and best-fitting option to their strengths and career goals.  All postsecondary options are to be explored, including:



On-the Job Training





Associate Degree

Bachelor’s Degree

Specialist’s Degree

Master’s Degree

Doctoral Degree

Workplace learning experiences bring postsecondary career options to real life.  Seeing varieties of workplaces help student’s more fully understand the plethora of options that are available. Career demonstrations, businesses tours, and introductions to entrepreneurs in business start-up environments will provide knowledge of employment, entrepreneurship and opportunities for on-the-job training.  U.S. Military has online information on career options and representatives are often willing to visit your school.

Starting in elementary grades students start to explore careers in their community.  Soon students can begin to see the impact that education has on career preparation. Higher education vocabulary is to be taught at the appropriate developmental level and should begin in kindergarten. Learning vocabulary such as transcripts, credits, GPA, tuition, admission, internship, application, certification, diploma, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate, major and financial aid is the beginning to building awareness about all education and training options.

Campus visits are essential in developing knowledge of different career preparation at community colleges, technical colleges and 4- year colleges or universities. In elementary schools, virtual tours are a possibility. At the junior high, college visits make college a reality. EducationQuest offers the 8th Grade Campus Visit Grant, which provides $500 to schools to facilitate a college visit experience. The campus visit is an influential factor in promoting college attendance. A campus visit each year of high school is highly recommended.

College and career celebrations build a postsecondary-going culture in all schools. College/Career Days can be celebrated with all faculty and staff sharing their college and career preparation stories. Trivia contests about college knowledge peeks the interest of students, especially when donated prizes from various postsecondary campuses are given away. Teachers wearing college gear and demonstrating career skills learned, helps keep the conversation alive. Signs outside of every teacher’s door, which showcase the degrees earned at each institution, help to bring the postsecondary options and planning conversation into the classroom.

EducationQuest, a non-profit organization with a mission to improve access to higher education in Nebraska, offers free college planning services, outreach services, need-based scholarship programs and college access grants. EducationQuest offers a variety of resources to help schools create a college-going culture and educate families about the financial aid process.

EducationQuest sponsors the annual Apply2College campaign in which Nebraska high schools conduct events during the school day to help seniors complete college applications.

Teaching the four types of financial aid as early as middle school and junior high teaches students the vocabulary needed to navigate scholarship applications and the FAFSA. Students need to learn early about scholarships and the opportunities available to help make college a reality for all students including students with disabilities.

Look2College provides 6th grade students with considerations to help them get on the path to college to prepare for career choices.

KnowHow2GO promotes four steps 8th-10th grade students should follow to make college possible in career preparation.

College Prep Handbook College and Career exploration information for 11th and 12th graders.

College Planning for Students with Disabilities provides a supplement to the college prep handbook.

Updated August 6, 2023 5:39pm