Fifty-one percent of U.S. adults say they would study a different major in college, choose a different institution, or select a different degree program if they could go back and do it again, according to Carlo Salerno, vice president of Data Analytics for Strada Education NetworkSM. While college access professionals have been working for decades to get more students into postsecondary education, what has proved most challenging is keeping students on track until graduation and helping them find a career post-graduation that is rewarding and can support them, Salerno said.

Salerno discussed this challenge with four panelists, Mike Marriner of Roadtrip Nation, Edward Lee Vargas of AVID, high school teacher Andrea Giordino-Rink and her student Cynthia Coria, at an NCAN National Conference breakfast plenary on connecting college and career success on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Coria, who is in her junior year at Sweetwater Union High School in California, is currently in the process of deciding what she wants to do with her future.

“I need to see a college that will fit all my likes and dislikes and a major that will represent who I am as a person,” she said.

Roadtrip Nation, a Strada Education Network company that sends students on road trips to interview a diverse array of professionals about their career paths, has helped Coria find some insight into that big question: Who is she as a person?

Giordino-Rink said that before she introduced Roadtrip Nation into her classroom, it was hard to make students see the connection between what they do in high school and what they can do later in life. In her 25 years of teaching, no curriculum has allowed her students to make the insights the program has helped them make, she said. She asks them, “What would you do for free and how can you make that into a career?” After a great deal of self-reflection, Coria decided the answer to that question was astronomy.


To help more students like Coria answer the questions that will help them pursue gratifying and fruitful careers after college, NCAN has partnered with Strada Education to make career preparedness a more important part of the college access narrative.

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“What would you do for free and how can you make that into a career?”

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“College access and success are critical for students, but they need to access and complete with a purpose,” said Bill DeBaun, director of Data and Evaluation at NCAN. “Our work with Strada Education Network has helped us to develop resources for members starting to connect college and career success and those aiming to refine their existing efforts.”

With the help of a one-year grant from Strada Education, NCAN is sharing programs with members that have successfully made the college-career connection, and helping them build the capacity to help students make the transition from high school to college to career. A series of career success spotlight webinars of NCAN members, a white paper of lessons learned from NCAN’s multi-city Spring Training series, and blog posts examining everything from career success platforms to metrics are just some of the resources included at NCAN’s connecting college and career success hub.

Helping students succeed in college and find a career they love isn’t an easy mission, but with unique programs like Roadtrip Nation and the AVID teaching system, it’s definitely possible.

As Vargas told NCAN conference-goers near the end of the panel discussion, “If you want to get better, you’ve got to get different.”

Adapted from a blog post that originally appeared on the NCAN website.