Students Find Their Best-Fit Path to a Successful Career

Opportunity Education’s Pathways Curriculum is designed to prepare students for life after high school. With lessons in three core areas, Interest and Career Exploration, Foundations of Professionalism, and Personal Finance, students investigate and experience a variety of career pathways, discover the components of communicating professionally so they can be successful in their careers, and practice managing personal finances so they can make informed decisions about their future.

The Pathways Curriculum can be implemented as a single course or series of courses, a stand-alone program, or as a supplement to existing college and career counseling services your school already offers.

School Counselors Support Every Student

Counselors and school leaders report that students who complete the Pathways Curriculum are prepared for life beyond high school and are more likely to stick to their chosen path due to their career experiences in high school. Using existing curriculum means school counselors can focus on what matters most: supporting individual students.

“Pathways has helped our school and students connect to the local community. Students apply skills they have learned and gain real-world experience through internships and service learning opportunities with local businesses, including nursing homes, clinics, and non-profit organizations.”

– Angela Reed, Pathways Program Manager

“The reality is that many school counselors have full caseloads and we can’t always do all the one-on-one work we would want. With Pathways, I don’t feel like I am working from scratch when I sit down with a junior or senior.”

 

– Sarah Earnest, Pathways Omaha

Schools Become a Vital Part of Their Community

The Pathways Curriculum helps schools extend the classroom to local business and professional communities, strengthening school-community relationships. The Pathways Curriculum helps establish partnerships with local professionals, creating a network of mentors that students can benefit from long after they graduate.

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“Pathways helped me get an internship as an audio engineer with a local recording studio. I learned how to mix samples, balance recordings, and participated in recording a local band’s EP. This internship helped me figure out the right career path, and now I’ve been accepted to a music program at Berklee College of Music this fall.”

Three Key Themes

With the Pathways Curriculum, students dive deep into an exploration of who they are, what they want, and what they need to succeed. Students graduate high school with a core set of professional and personal skills and habits, gain career experience, plan for their futures, and start taking steps along their chosen pathway before they even graduate high school.

The curriculum helps students develop skills and knowledge in three key areas: Interest and Career Exploration, Foundations of Professionalism, and Personal Finance.

 

1

Interest and Career Exploration

What am I interested in and what kind of work do I want to do? 

Students identify their strengths, explore their values, learn about the economy and professions, and explore career opportunities that are suited to their interests and strengths.

Students:

  • Complete strengths, interests, and career assessments.
  • Meet professionals from various fields.
  • Participate in internships, service learning, and job shadowing.
  • Plan for and complete applications.

2

Foundations of Professionalism

How can I succeed in the workplace and communicate in a professional manner?

Students practice important communication skills and build relationships with people that can support them in various life and work situations.

Students:

  • Practice active listening.
  • Participate in interviews.
  • Create and curate a portfolio of work.
  • Develop resumes.
  • Manage social media profiles.

3

Personal Finance

What financial resources do I need for my path beyond high school?

Students gain the knowledge, experience, and confidence needed to manage their finances and pursue the career path of their choice.

Students:

  • Identify assets and tips for managing resources.
  • Open or manage an account with a financial institution.
  • Review account statements and credit reports.
  • Complete a cost-benefit analysis of their intended pathway and career.
  • Create a budget.

“I can see the intersection between science and computer programming… I went in not knowing how to do Python at all and now I’m mapping thin sea ice with code… I gained a lot of real-world experience that I wouldn’t have been able to get from just being in a classroom.”

– Lillian, QFHS Santa Rosa Class of 2022. Intern with Remote Sensing Systems

The Pathways Curriculum

Flexible and Customizable

Schools can customize the Pathways Curriculum to address specific goals and to work effectively in their local context.

The curriculum includes 46 projects most of which are part of a series where students revisit topics and skills in subsequent years. An example series is shown below.

Project TitleIntended GradeDriving QuestionGoal
Pathway Exploration9What Pathways are possible after high school?Identify two pathways of interest to you.
Select Your Path11What Pathway and careers are you most interested in today?Create a Career Profile that describes your interests, compatible professions, and the pathway you plan to pursue.
Career Profile, Revisited12What Pathway and career are you most interested in today?Update your Career Profile to incorporate new interests and areas of focus.

Projects are comprised of:

  • Multiple learning activities to help students develop knowledge and skills in the three key areas. 
  • Prioritized Essential Habits and suggestions for supporting students in developing each habit. 
  • Suggestions for implementation (e.g., discussions, feedback, community partnerships, workshops, etc.).

A curriculum guide and framework, which include objectives and scope and sequence recommendations, and a rubric for the 5 Essential Habits are included with the curriculum.

Objectives by Grade Level

At the end of each grade, students participating in the Pathways Curriculum will be able to:  

Grade 9

  • Explore and identify their personal interests, values, and preferences. 
  • Identify strengths and how to use them.
  • Explore the four pathways and identify two pathways that interest them.
  • Identify key components of active listening and practice listening actively.
  • Identify how to use a growth mindset when responding to setbacks, and practice a growth mindset.
  • Manage social media profiles.
  • Identify and implement strategies and tools to manage resources and money.

Grade 10

  • Reflect on and update their personal interests and values, and careers that align with them.
  • Analyze their active listening skills and practice listening actively. 
  • Practice a growth mindset. 
  • Review and update social media profiles.
  • Create a list of people they can consult for help in various life and career situations.
  • Review and manage assets.

Grade 11

  • Review their strengths and evaluate how they influence plans for the future.
  • Create a Career Profile that describes their interests, strengths, compatible professions, and the path they plan to pursue. 
  • Complete a career experience and set goals for their next experience. 
  • Visit places and meet people that can help them learn about their pathway of interest.
  • Discover how to reframe failure.
  • Take intentional steps to create a professional online presence.
  • Refine their list of people or local resources they can get help from.
  • Create a resume that reflects their strengths, passions, and personality.
  • Prepare for and practice an interview.
  • Create a portfolio that captures and showcases their work.
  • Determine the type of account that is best for them and their financial goals, and open or manage that account.
  • Create a budget for the next six months. 
  • Identify common financial terms, forms and information. 

Grade 12

  • Update their Career Profile to incorporate new interests.
  • Complete a second career experience. 
  • Create plans with actionable next steps beyond high school. 
  • Visit places and meet people that can help them learn about their chosen pathway and commit to their next steps after high school.
  • Apply to school(s), the military, or job(s). 
  • Reflect on their implementation of grit and growth mindset.
  • Identify ways Linkedin can be used to further professional goals.
  • Refine their list of people or local resources they can get help from in various career and life situations.
  • Update their resume, and create cover letters if needed.
  • Prepare for and practice another interview.
  • Update their portfolio of work.
  • Find a career mentor and build a relationship with them.
  • Manage their account with a financial institution. 
  • Create a budget for six months post graduation.
  • Understand the costs/benefits of their intended career pathway, earnings potential, lifestyle factors, and longer-term vision.

Objectives by Core Area

After completing all the quests within each core area of the Pathways Curriculum, students will be able to:  

Interest and Career Exploration

  • Explore and identify personal interests, values, preferences, and dislikes.
  • Identify strengths and how to use them.
  • Explore pathways: military, trade school, college, apprenticeship
  • Identify two pathways of interest and explain why they may be a fit.
  • Complete two career experiences. 
  • Create plans with actionable next steps beyond high school, including a back up plan (e.g. find a place to live, apply for part time jobs, etc.).
  • Visit places and meet people to learn about their pathway of interest.
  • Complete and submit applications to school(s), the military, or job(s).

Foundations of Professionalism

  • Identify key components of active listening and practice listening actively.
  • Identify how to use a growth mindset when responding to setbacks.
  • Discover how to reframe failure.
  • Review, update, and manage social media profiles in a professional manner
  • Create a list of people to consult for help in various life and career situations.
  • Create an effective resume and cover letter that reflects strengths, passions, and personality. Update it as necessary. 
  • Prepare for and practice an interview.
  • Create/update a personal email account to use professionally.
  • Create a portfolio that captures and showcases their work.
  • Find a career mentor and build a relationship with them.

Personal Finance

  • Identify and implement strategies and tools to manage resources and money.
  • Review and manage assets. Determine the type of account that is best for their financial goals and open or manage that account.
  • Investigate consequences of credit card debt. 
  • Create example and/or real budgets that reflect their plans for after high school.
  • Identify common financial terms, forms and information they need to be familiar with.
  • Understand the cost/benefits of their intended career pathway, earnings potential, lifestyle factors, and longer-term vision. Create a budget for six months post graduation.

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