Students are constantly reminded about the importance of preparing for college and career, but the responsibility is a shared one. Educators and parents play a large role in ensuring that students are equipped with the proper skillset and knowledge to navigate life post-high school, and are motivated to succeed.

For students to feel motivated, they must be inspired. To make this happen, I use resources provided by TGR EDU: Explore in my classroom, a program that aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in college and career–and beyond.

Related content: 4 ways to support college and career readiness

Part of the program includes Discover Your Passion, an exercise that helps students identify their interests, brainstorm future goals for college and career, and discover their passions. Students visualize, organize, and illustrate their pathways, and create action plans to help achieve them.

To get their creative juices flowing, students are invited to complete mind maps. Mind mapping is a non-linear note-taking technique that awakens the mind’s creative side and helps break students out of their typical thought process. Mind mapping is especially useful for helping students picture their individual pathways.

Students branch off of the central idea ‘my wildest dreams,’ with words and images that illustrate important areas of their life, which can range from education, to travel to bucket list items. By doing this, students craft an individual snapshot of what they envision for their future.

There’s no right or wrong way to create a mind map. Every student has their own set of dreams and goals, and by encouraging exploration, they can see that their ambitions are possible. After students identify their desires, they can create short and long-term goals to achieve them. Goals should always be SMART, meaning specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and have a timeframe.

Goals are only useful if we have support in completing them. Helping students to identify who can support them in their plans and providing useful resources can make all of the difference. Teachers can also leverage interactive resources as a tool to help foster healthy student-teacher relationships. A comprehensive, digitally engaging program can help educators facilitate conversations that spark an authentic dialogue about college and career readiness, especially with students who are struggling academically or who seem distant, and it has been tremendously helpful for me when navigating challenging conversations.

By helping students discover their passions, we can empower learners to pursue their interests, and bring their dreams to fruition through an action plan supported by actionable goals. Together, we can help students envision a successful future.

About the Author:

Josh Prater is a United States History Teacher at Sam Rayburn High School in the Pasadena Independent School District.


Add your opinion to the discussion.