Post Graduation Guidance and Preparation

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Douglas County School District (DCSD) has committed to “increase stakeholder awareness of all post-graduate opportunities” and “enhance and increase sustainable, quality educational pathway opportunities for all students.” Post-graduation guidance and preparation have become increasingly important as the changing labor market requires more than just high-quality instruction.

The United States Department of Education has recognized the need to change traditional high school culture from one that is centered around college readiness, to one that takes responsibility for preparing all students for postsecondary success.[1] Rather than support resting mainly with guidance counselors, the Department of Education recommends a model of building-wide support for both high quality instruction and for college preparation[2] The Education Trust recognizes that school counselors are leaders in the building who are in a position to focus on the individual journey of each student, but note that this work cannot be done without support from teachers and administrators.[3] Principals should ensure that counselors’ jobs are clearly defined and that they have time to help prepare all students for success.[4] Counselors should also work with teachers and parents to track and support student progress.

Successful school systems across the world support students through some form of guidance. Finland, known for being a top-performing country on international benchmarking exams, uses career guidance and counseling at the lower and upper secondary levels to help ensure students make informed decisions about their futures and to connect formal education with the working world.[5] In the U.S., Florida’s Hillsborough County Public Schools has a long-established history of labor-management aimed at transforming the district’s schools to ensure success for students and educators.[6] The district’s current strategy to meet its expected 100% graduation rate relies on all stakeholders working together to prepare every student for college or the workforce.[7]

Beyond traditional college preparation, school systems should offer preparation for those students who do not plan to attend college. Career and technical education (CTE – formerly known as vocational education) is proving to be one of the most effective educational approaches to ensuring that students learn these 21st century skills alongside technical skills and academics. One of the reasons CTE is so successful is that it employs project-based learning (PBL) as a method of instruction.[8] This approach is more likely than traditional means of instruction to engage students because it gives a real-world context for learning, based on students’ own interests.  Core content is presented through rigorous, relevant, hands-on learning. Students gain practical, real-world experience to prepare them for post-graduation success.





[1] Fazekas, A. & Warren, C. Building a pathway to the future: Maximizing high school guidance and advisory support. Prepared for the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Smaller Learning Communities Program,


[3] Hines, P. L., & Lemons, R. W. (2011). Poised to lead: How school counselors can drive college and career readiness. The Education Trust,



[6] Hillsborough County Public Schools,

[7] Hillsborough County Public Schools Strategic Plan 2015-20,

[8] See e.g.