Aspirations Toolkit

Many adult students think that postsecondary education is out of reach for them. They perceive barriers that are both real and surmountable, ranging from low self-efficacy (sense of competence to accomplish a task or goal) to lack of awareness of supports, such as financial aid. Many of these barriers can be addressed, but in order for adult learners to consider such steps adult education programs must also shift their paradigm and practice and develop specific strategies to heighten learners’ aspirations and goals and raise awareness of opportunities, throughout all program phases, from enrollment and orientation to instruction, counseling, and planning for next steps.

The Aspirations Toolkit is a resource for practitioners to make this important paradigm shift in promoting learner aspirations early and often in their instruction and counseling interactions. Contributors implement these lessons and activities with adult learners in various class types (e.g. ESOL or GED) and at a range of skill levels to foster aspirations, goal setting habits and to inspire them to begin planning for next steps along their education and career pathway.

Development of the toolkit is partially funded through a grant from the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation with matching funds provided by World Education, Inc.

Each tool is listed under one of the four areas of college and career readiness. Those that span multiple areas are cross-listed.

Personal Readiness

Career Readiness

Academic Readiness

College Knowledge Readiness

  • Keys to Success: Checklist that students and teachers can use to track progress towards development of college and career readiness skills.
  • Next Steps Academy: Board game to teach and review college terminology and norms.
  • Term-by-Term Planner: Tool for tracking academic milestones and progress towards goals, mirroring tools used by academic advisors in postsecondary education.
  • College Awareness-Readiness Curriculum: A series of four lessons that introduce students to the value, accessibility, terminology, and processes of postsecondary enrollment.