College and Career Readiness Resources

Afterschool programs are excellent platforms for youth of all ages to begin thinking about their post-secondary education plans and explore future careers. To help Out-of-School Time providers engage with, and incorporate these resources into their programming, ACT Now  has compiled them into this straightforward guidebook to highlight quality, affordable, and creative materials.

Within the guidebook you will find:

  • Curricula, activities, and lesson plans
  • Resources for introducing and facilitating college and career programming at elementary, middle, and high school levels
  • Funding opportunities
  • Tips on how to engage community members in order to host college and career exploration events 

To download our College and Career Readiness Guidebook, click on the image or click here. 










Supporting Students with College Decisions


Chalkbeat published an article on how to help high school students select a college that is a good fit for them. The article offers tips and resources on how high school staff can make the transition for students easier. 

Brokering Youth Pathways

The Hive Research Network released a toolkit that shares ways in which various out-of-school educators and professionals have approached the challenge of connecting youth to future learning opportunities and resources. 

Ten Durable Skills For Future Success

eSchool News recently published a list of ten skills that employers view as the most desirable in
employees. This article will help afterschool providers to integrating these skills into
programming and help to ensure learners will reach success in the future.

DefinedLearning White Paper: Empowering Students with Equitable Access to Career Experiences

DefinedLearning has published a new white paper on the importance of supporting students and youth in accessing college and career exploration experiences. The piece also describes the strategies for doing so successfully, whether in a school district or afterschool program environment.

College Changes Everything 2020 Conference

Recordings of Live Conference Events Now Available The College Changes Everything 2020 Conference has released all recordings and corresponding materials associated with the eight live sessions that were offered last month. To access these recordings, click here.

Career Readiness Workshop Playbook

Step-by-step guide for how to hold a successful Career Readiness workshop targeting middle school, high school, and post-secondary students.

Enhance & Provide Career Readiness Opportunities in OST

This brief from the College & Career Readiness & Success Center at AIR looks at ways to leverage afterschool time to prepare students at at every stage of career development, from career awareness in kindergarten through sixth grade to career training in eleventh and twelfth grades. The brief offers recommendations for state leaders who are interested in using afterschool programming for career readiness.

Evidence-Based Practices to Support College and Career Readiness in High School

List of highly predictive indicators to support students who are at risk of not graduating from high school on time.

Linking School to 21st Century Skills

Finding ways to better prepare our youth for the new workplace has recently taken on greater urgency among educators and policymakers. Across the country, high schools are providing different programs, such as career pathways and certification, to acquaint teenagers with workplace demands. Yet we seem to be short on a potentially effective strategy – apprenticeships — and how students may benefit from such programs.

The Value and Promise of CTE

A national survey of parents and students on the value and promise of career technical education (CTE).

Bridging the Soft Skills Gap

Reports makes the case for partnerships between the business and education sectors and outlines strategies already being used successfully across the country.

Safety, Health, & Nutrition

Data Protection & Cybersecurity

The constant digital connection makes online safety a notable concern for students, parents, and teachers. With that said, learning and practicing solid cybersecurity habits is crucial to a positive college experience. Doing so will prevent you from computer viruses compromising important data, hackers hijacking your accounts, cyberthieves stealing your identity, and vengeful exes ruining your reputation, to name a few. This guide details the best ways for students to keep their identities and information safe online.









Youth Development, Programming, & Activities


On November 13, 2022, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.College Advisor is hosting a webinar where students will be able to learn more about the holistic application review process. During the webinar students will learn how to create their strongest application to set themselves up for college admissions success. 

The Education Trust has developed a blog series on College and Career Readiness. This series focuses on supporting young people of color in their college and career exploration experiences and provides strategies for hosting tough conversations around race, gender, and other structural barriers.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), and Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) have developed a website for high school youth to utilize in planning for careers. The tool allows students to review information and access youth programming in order to encourage and support young Illinoisans achieve higher education and secure employment opportunities.

eSchool News has compiled a variety of resources and materials relating to college and career exploration for educators and afterschool professionals to utilize in programming. The resources are based in Social-Emotional Learning competencies, touch upon STEM careers and diversity, and are available for remote and in-person instruction. 

National AfterSchool Association Article: Meeting Young People Where They Are via E-Mentoring

The National AfterSchool Association (NAA) has released an article on e-mentoring young people during the pandemic. The article highlights several recommendations for mentoring youth in a virtual environment and “tags” supplemental resources for doing so. To read the article, click here.

American Association of School Administrators: Youth Apprenticeship Toolkit

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) has published a new youth apprenticeship toolkit to provide resources for educators and afterschool providers looking to build apprenticeship programs and develop school and business partnerships. To access the youth apprenticeship toolkit and supplemental materials, such as case studies and videos, click here.



FabFems is a collection of resources for role models, educators, and parents to help foster young girls’ interest in STEM careers.

Mentoring Resources


National Mentoring Resource Center is a compilation of mentoring resources including handbooks, curriculum, and manuals that program administrators can use to implement and further develop program practices.


Career Girls is a career exploration tool for girls featuring women STEM role models. It allows youth to explore hundreds of careers to find out what different jobs are like and how you can prepare for them. Girls can explore careers that match their personality or interests. It’s free to use and contains videos, career quizzes, and resources.

Illinois Career Guide


The Illinois State Board of Education has produced a 44-page Career Guide for the 2019-20 school year, meant to better educate students, parents, teachers and counselors on various career paths available to students right here in Illinois.

Chicago College and Career Advising Credential (CCCAS)

Chicago Jobs Council, in collaboration with Youth Guidance and Chicago Public Schools is offering the CCCAS training program that will help you support youth in exploring progressive postsecondary pathway options. This interactive cohort training will provide tools to help youth explore their passions, interests, goals, and future pathways. You will also practice youth-centered coaching strategies, and examine and address equity issues in coaching and postsecondary planning. For more information or to sign up, click here
The Best Scholarship Search Platforms of 2018’s scholarship search platform guide ranks sites based on their ease of use, variety of scholarships available, dollar amounts, and supportive tools.

Computer Science
Career Exploration Resources

These computer science career resources from Affordable Colleges Online cover vetted programs, strategies for choosing the most suitable program, potential occupations, earning potential, funding options, and strategies for offsetting tuition through scholarships.

CTE and Career Pathways

The American Youth Policy Forum’s blog highlights how the state of Ohio plans to meet high school graduation requirements by offering students an option that combines specific industry-recognized credentials with a certain score on a work readiness exam.

Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool

The Afterschool Alliance’s recent issue brief highlights the ladder of supports afterschool and summer learning programs provide to help students develop the skills and gain the experience that will benefit them in the workforce.

Connecting Students to Apprenticeship Programs

Profiles eight programs and synthesizes observations across the sites to support state and local leaders in connecting high school CTE students with apprenticeships.

College & Career Readiness for Students With Disabilities

Despite advances in improving college and career readiness for students with disabilities, there is still a great deal of work needed to help more students achieve their full potential. This brief examines how two federal laws, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), can promote meaningful pathways to post-secondary opportunities by ensuring all students are college and career ready.