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College & Career Success Week: A Blueprint for Achievement

By Leslie Goines | November 2023

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As school counselors, we have the incredible opportunity to improve student achievement and support student development through well-designed school counseling programs. Our impact on students’ postsecondary planning can be profound, extending far beyond simply helping them choose a college or career path. By fostering a nurturing and inclusive environment, school counselors empower students to explore their passions, recognize their unique strengths and set meaningful goals. College & Career Success Week is an annual event that that has transformed my school culture and community mindset by empowering students to envision and plan for their future. This dedicated week of activities provides students with valuable insights into higher education and career opportunities, fostering a culture of aspiration and achievement.

Why College & Career Success Week Matters
College & Career Success Week is not just another school event; it is a vital component of a comprehensive school counseling program that prepares students for life beyond the classroom. Taking place in August or early September, this annual initiative helps students set long-term educational and career goals by offering them opportunities to interact with colleges, universities, union trades, representatives from various branches of the military and other postsecondary stakeholders. Our College & Career Success Week programming would not be possible without collaborative support from teachers. During this particular week, the school counseling team is provided direct access to classrooms to schedule speakers and workshops that align with student needs and interests. This ensures that all students have access to the programming and are exploring career fields that align with their personal attributes. The school counselor–teacher partnership is crucial because it enables a holistic approach to student development. This collaboration has enhanced the overall educational experience, allowing students to thrive as they work toward their post-secondary goals.

College & Career Success Week provides many benefits, including:
  • Inspiring career aspirations: Students are exposed to various career pathways and options throughout their time in high school and refine these aspirations during College & Career Success Week. Students set goals and are prompted to reflect on these goals throughout their time in high school.
  • Educational guidance: The program provides students with valuable insights into different educational pathways, helping them make informed decisions about their academic journey. Students are exposed to various college/career pathways, learning about the range of available opportunities.
  • Community engagement: College & Career Success Week fosters community involvement by connecting local employers with students, strengthening ties between the school and surrounding community.
  • Transforming school culture: Integrating college/career curriculum into the classroom and consistently offering a College & Career Success Week has played a pivotal role in transforming the school culture. It has encouraged a future-oriented mindset and emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning.
Planning Your College & Career Success Week
Implementing this program in your middle or high school requires planning, preparation and collaboration. Here are some key steps to get started:
  • Assessment and goal setting: Begin by assessing the needs of your students and school. The school counseling team continually assesses varying student needs and interests; data is used to drive the decision-making process. Here is a sample Google form you can adapt to assess the needs of your school.
  • Data-driven decisions: Utilizing the data gathered from your college/career survey, identify trends among your student population. This data should drive your decision making regarding the presenters and events showcased during College & Career Success Week.
  • Selecting dates: We have found that establishing these dates in advance allows for easier scheduling. Consider factors such as academic calendar and availability of guest speakers and institutions. Keeping this week at the start of the school year jumpstarts the college application season and has helped our students become more confident navigating the process.
  • Engage stakeholders: Involve stakeholders in the planning process. The tradition of this event has sparked excitement and at times the school counseling team has been inundated with requests to join our list of speakers. Stakeholders have found value in the week – their ongoing support helps students and their participation has strengthened relationships with the counseling department and various educational stakeholders.
  • Curriculum integration: Integrate College & Career Success Week into the curriculum. Together, the school counseling team and staff work to ensure that classroom activities align with program goals, allowing students to apply what they have learned. Through curriculum integration, students have the opportunity to create a resume, strengthen scholarship/admission essays, produce a cover letter and reflect on future aspirations. Collaborating and incorporating school counseling curriculum not only enhances students’ skills but also empowers them to confidently pursue their educational and career aspirations.
View a sample schedule for College & Career Success Week
College & Career Success Week is a powerful tool for transforming schools and communities by equipping students with the knowledge and inspiration they need to pursue their postsecondary endeavors. Do not become overwhelmed with the process – start small and work toward building your own College & Career Success Week in your school. Overcoming challenges and fostering a culture of aspiration will lead to a brighter future for your students and community, ultimately shaping the leaders of tomorrow. With creative curriculum integration, effective collaboration and shared resources, a school counselor can empower students to explore their potential and build a foundation for lifelong success.

Leslie Goines is a school counselor in Metropolis, Ill.; contact her at