BOSTON–The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted student learning and impacted all facets of the education landscape. As schools work to provide students with application supports, it is equally important to engage them in understanding what it means to live a purpose-filled life and the key components of a self-discovery process.
October is BPS College & Career Month in the Boston Public Schools! This marks an exciting month of events and activities designed to encourage all students and their families to begin planning for a passion-filled life after high school as early as possible.
Throughout October, BPS and Success Boston, along with multiple nonprofit and community partners, will collaborate on a campaign to encourage students at all grade levels to begin planning for college and their career.
The goal of BPS College & Career Month is to showcase all of the city’s varied and helpful resources designed to get students prepared for, enrolled in, and through college.
“We are so excited to have our intelligent, resilient BPS students back in our school buildings, learning in-person alongside their peers and receiving appropriate supports and resources from their caring educators,” said BPS Superintendent, Brenda Cassellius. "College Month is a critical time to ensure our young leaders of tomorrow are prepared for postsecondary success. Amidst the pandemic, it is more important than ever before that our high school students are provided with information about financial aid, the college application and admissions process, and alternative options available to them after graduation."
This October, we are focused on helping all students understand the importance of beginning the postsecondary planning process early and engaging their families, counselors, teachers, partners, and mentors in their journey.
Since its inception, Success Boston has celebrated tremendous wins, dramatically increasing the percentage of BPS graduates who enroll in college, as well as those who earn degrees. The six-year college completion rate for BPS graduates is now 52%, combined with an astounding 80.5% college attendance rate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally disrupted education for students across Boston and beyond, even as its economic and health impacts disrupted their families,” said Dr. M. Lee Pelton, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “College and Career Month provides an important entry point for Boston students to both understand the importance of higher education, and to access tools and supports that they and their caregivers can leverage to help them toward their college and career goals.”
BPS College & Career Month also marks the official launch of the Class of 2024 Challenge with Generation Success -- a readiness campaign that works with schools, out-of-school programs, parents and industry groups across Boston to prepare students with the skills they need for college, career and life after high school.
The campaign will engage with businesses, BPS and Success Boston throughout this month and beyond to ensure young people have the community resources they need to seek opportunities like internships, volunteer programs and college credit courses -- and achieve success in life as they define it.
Key themes and dates:
BPS College & Career Month highlights a “college knowledge” theme each week, with students across elementary, middle, and high schools participating in age-appropriate college awareness activities.
The 2021 themed weeks are:
Week 1: College Affordability Week (October 4-8)
Week 2: College Readiness Week (October 11-15)
Week 3: STEM Week (October 18-22)
Week 4: My Career & Academic Planning - MyCAP Week (October 25-29)
Find your WHY. During the Friday, October 1st kick-off for College Month, the community of practitioners will be asked to not only represent their college colors and alma mater but to share short videos and written inspirational posts on their “Why” and the path to accessing their careers. The road is long and winding, and it is critical that our students understand this more now than ever, but also know there are supports along the way. Follow our social media accounts for videos, stories, graphics, and more: @SuccessBoston on Facebook and Twitter and @Success.Boston on Instagram
October 4-8: College Affordability Week with a highlight on FAFSA completion. During College and Career Month 2021 there will be an amplified effort to support students with completing their FAFSAs. Studies have shown that 90% of students who complete a FAFSA by March 15th are more likely to enter college in the fall. We also know that completing the FAFSA is the key to unlocking access to higher education and career opportunities. Without the completion of the FAFSA, students miss out on opportunities, which leads to disparate outcomes. To combat this, we double-down our efforts and support this class and their families in new and dynamic ways and set FAFSA completion as a measure of equity and a tool to increase college access in BPS for the Class of 2022.
October 11-15: College Readiness Week. We want to encourage all students and their families to begin the process, no matter where they are. The October 2020 College & Career Month will serve as a mechanism to help students understand the importance of beginning the postsecondary planning process early and engaging their families, counselors, teachers, partners, and mentors in their journey towards achieving the goals and competencies outlined in the City-wide College, Career, and Life Readiness Framework.
October 18-22: Massachusetts STEM Week. Massachusetts STEM Week is another cross-sector initiative that we will support and promote. BPS is planning activities to highlight the biotechnology field in Massachusetts and is considering a series of experiences delivered throughout the neighborhoods of Boston. There is also specific engagement planned for families around STEM and the possibility of a joint College & Career Month/STEM Fair, depending upon CDC regulations.
October 25-29: My Career & Academic Planning Week (MyCAP) highlighting Naviance. Our district's goal is for every high school student to engage in a post-high school planning process using a comprehensive college and career readiness platform Naviance. Naviance helps students achieve critical milestones to prepare for college or careers. Once students use the platform to identify their strengths and interests, Naviance helps them connect those interests to potential careers and plan a course of study to reach their goals, whether they are heading directly to college, entering the workforce, joining the military, or pursuing another path after high school.
New & Notable This Year:
Cross sector initiatives this year will include continued support and promotion of Generation Success- a public will campaign geared towards students, families, practitioners and industry to take action on the preparation needed for students to set a vision, work with others, build competence, choose a course and change a course upon high school graduation and engage in high-quality intellectual work. During the 2020 school year the initiative launched with the class of 2024 initiative, which asked students to begin their career exploration journey by completing 3 MyCAP experiences within the Naviance platform. This effort will continue this year with new objectives for the class of 2024 and 2025, with a focus on exploration of the career spectrum and an expansion of the MyCAP tasks which will now include exploration around financial literacy. This campaign will continue to support our collective objectives and reinforce Success Boston’s focus on obtaining a college degree.
We are working with New Skills Boston, a five-year initiative, launched by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and led locally by EdVestors. The goal of this initiative is to expand career pathways and help schools and students increase access to the labor market and gain credentials. Increasing access for learning opportunities that happen outside of the classroom and are in support of career pathway development will be critical to our collective return, recovery, and (re) imagine efforts.
During College & Career Month 2021 Boston Public Schools will offer the SAT and PSAT during the school day for high school juniors and seniors. While some colleges and universities no longer require the exam for entrance, the exam results may be used to determine eligibility for merit based scholarships, which would make college more affordable for our students, thus helping them graduate with less debt, which sets them up for a stable financial start at the beginning of their careers.
Finally, for the first time the College and Career Month team will be partnering with a group of social media savvy student ambassadors to promote events and resources throughout the month. Engaging with students through near-peer advocacy is important as they gain perspective about career possibilities and experiences.