Four Areas of College and Career Readiness

The National College Transition Network identifies four areas of college and career readiness—personal, career, academic, and college knowledge—in which adult learners are typically underprepared and ill-equipped and without which, it is difficult if not impossible to survive in a college environment.* These areas of college and career readiness represent the types of knowledge, skills, and preparation that students need in order to be successful along their educational and career pathway.

Personal Readiness

  • anticipating challenges, and securing supports and services proactively
  • juggling multiple commitments (e.g. work, family, relationships, school) while managing stress and time
  • accessing income supports, benefits, and supplementary assistance as needed
  • preparing for the added financial burdens of education, including hidden costs (e.g. transportation, books, childcare, reduced work hours)
  • financial planning, budgeting, and timely completion of financial aid applications
  • communicating needs and concerns, self-advocacy and conflict resolution skills

Career Readiness

  • growing awareness of one’s skills, interests, values, and priorities as they relate to career exploration and planning
  • research skills to explore occupational profiles, labor market data, education and training requirements
  • identify the steps along one’s education and career pathway
  • setting realistic goals that include specific action steps and timelines
  • resume writing and job search and interview skills

Academic Readiness

  • reading, writing, and math skills to master the technical content of the  integrated career pathways technical courses
  • content knowledge, reading, writing, and algebra skills needed for placement into college-level classes
  • study and test taking skills and technology skills needed for integrated career pathways courses
  • self-management and awareness of self as a learner with the ability to create study space and schedule, organize study materials, prioritize tasks, and complete assignments on time

College Knowledge Readiness

  • knowledge of array of campus functions, resources, how to access and seek out help, and how to communicate proactively and appropriately with faculty and staff
  • ability to navigate the college culture, environment, and procedures
  • familiarity with college admissions and financial aid processes
  • understanding of terminology, complex processes, and the written (and often unwritten) rules and codes of postsecondary institutions
  • ability to use course catalogue to locate course information, registration policies (e.g. add/drop), and other information

The organization of these skills into a four-component model was articulated by the El Paso Adult Education Consortium. It was further developed by Cynthia Zafft, NCTN Senior Advisor, influenced by the research of Conley, and Bean and Metzner.