College And Career Readiness Chat

April 14, 2022

Our own Laura Robell and Jason Epting recently shared their wisdom in the College and Career Twitter Chat that UnboundEd co-hosted with The Education Trust and District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).  Read their thoughtful replies and CLICK HERE to check out the full discussion on Twitter.


Q1: Welcome & thank you for joining our #CollegeAndCareerChat today! To kick things off, sound off with who you are & where you are joining from! #CollegeAndCareerChat

Laura Robell: @laurarobell from Oakland, CA 

Jason Epting: @ndamakong from Bronx, NY


Q2: What does it mean to graduate students who are ready for college & career? #CollegeAndCareerChat 

Jason: To graduate students who are ready for college and career means that the student has had many experiences in exploring rigorous education as well as practicing what kind of global citizen they want to be. All lessons from PreK-12th are opportunities to explore increasingly difficult academic standards as well as what soft skills that directly tie to purpose-driven actions students will implore in their lives.

Laura: Graduating students who are #collegeandcareerready is all about having choice and opportunity. Their K-12 experience should be both academically rigorous and engaging, helping them see many possibilities and paths in the world and the skills and confidence to pursue them. 


Q3: Before students graduate, it’s important they’re prepared for the next step in their lives. Why is it important to include a race-conscious lens in college & career readiness programs? #RaceConsciousCCR #CollegeAndCareerChat 

Jason: Whether we want to discuss it or not, race plays a factor in the trajectory of how students think of themselves and the world around them. The statistics around academic success in regards to Black and Brown students in no accident. The American school system was not designed for their success yet our students still achieve. Race-conscious students entering college and the workfield is imperative to breaking down systems of oppression and recognizing ways to be truly liberated in their lives. 

Laura: When we don’t prepare our students to be race-conscious in this race-conscious world, we do them (and our future) a disservice. Students must know and understand – historically and in the present – how the construct of race shapes all of us. This system was not built for students of color. They must be prepared to both navigate it and dismantle it simultaneously. 


Q4: Performance in Advanced Placement courses, IB courses, & dual enrollment are traditional college & career benchmarks. What other programs & practices can help students of color enhance & leverage their social & cultural assets? #CollegeAndCareerChat 

Jason: (So raw but I will work on wording later) Race-conscious mentorship; Internships; College and Career Preparation CLASSES included in curriculum; EOP offerings; College visits; Job Placement; Finding Your Passion Programs

Laura: Each of these programs can certainly support students of color, and I’d turn this question back to communities. What kinds of practices and experiences encourage critical thinking, in and outside of the classroom? How do we push students out of their comfort zone while also supporting their development where they are? What kind of nets have we placed below our students so that they can walk the tightrope with confidence as they discover themselves? 


Q5: Why is it important to provide students, especially students of color, college & career preparedness opportunities beyond advanced courses? #CollegeAndCareerChat 

Jason: College and Career Preparedness opportunities beyond advanced courses help students to visualize their success. All too often, students enter college unprepared with a mindset that since they graduated high school, they are prepared. All too often, this is not the case. Programs beyond advanced courses give all students access to modes that they can navigate the next chapter in their lives in an intentional way. 

Laura: Doing things, but doing them harder, isn’t always what inspires or motivates people! Rigorous coursework is important, but so is experiencing what college life is like; so is seeing people who look like you in professional spaces. There are so many ways to find that spark in young people. And it usually starts by connecting deeply with teachers who push their thinking in the classroom and schools/systems that provide students experiences in the world to apply their learning. 


Q6: College & career readiness should ensure students are prepared for college & career and thrive beyond high school. How can schools ensure students of color remain supported once they reach the next step? #CollegeAndCareerChat 

Jason: College and Career Perseverance is a fairly new concept that many schools are providing time and resources to ensure their students are supported in their next step. These programs are set up to be more than check-in systems but a way to tailor needs of their students based on where they attend school and what resources are available. College and career perseverance programs do not start once a student has graduated. Programs like these start in their junior year to ensure that the right-fit colleges are selected and the correct financial aid packages are set up. Data suggest that most students that earn academic probation or dismissal are least likely to graduate at all. Those students also incur balances that they cannot pay which leaves the possibility of reenrolling in school very bleak. Programs that support students in their first year of college and beyond should have specific ways of supporting students so that they can have success comebacks. 

Laura: We need to solve this problem as a system. K-12 schools are not funded to support students after they graduate high school, although many of them do ad-hoc. We know from the research what works – coaching and mentorship in their early college years, support with financial aid processes, study and support groups of students from similar backgrounds, and more. 


Q7: What kind of innovative policies can districts & schools put in place to prepare students of color to enter & thrive in college & career? #CollegeAndCareerChat 

Jason: There are so many ideas of how to promote college and career success for students of color but all of these actions have to be based on the belief that they possess excellence. The message that students of color should receive is that they can be geniuses in the area they choose and we are there to help them make it a reality. 

Laura: Here in California, it’s possible to graduate from high school and not be eligible to even apply to a state 4-year university. Our systems are currently set up to exclude – with their complexity, their tests, their bureaucratic hurdles – rather than to support students, especially students of color – in pursuing a college education. Policies like that have to change.