On-Ramps to Postsecondary Transitions

On-Ramps to Postsecondary Transitions is a groundbreaking model smoothing student transitions from high school to postsecondary education and the workforce through a connected, streamlined college and career readiness navigation system.

Deep inequities remain in the degree to which high school students of varied backgrounds can access and succeed in high-quality dual enrollment and work-based learning intended to prepare them for college and careers. Students from low-income backgrounds, for example, face more challenges than their higher-income peers. Many schools lack the robust college and career navigation supports and resources necessary to help students make informed decisions about their postsecondary and career pathways. Additionally, the negative effects of the pandemic have led to an increase in the rate of youth not currently attending school, threatening higher education and career prospects for millions.

Colorado Succeeds, Jobs for the Future, and NORC at the University of Chicago are supporting a group of Colorado high schools and their districts using the On-Ramps to Postsecondary Transitions (OPT) model to give students a head start on their college and career pathways. By fostering partnerships across government agencies, schools, community-based organizations, and postsecondary institutions, the high schools will leverage OPT to adopt or expand a holistic and integrated approach. Opportunities to build skills, explore careers, and understand postsecondary pathways will begin in grade 9. With that foundation, schools will guide more students in grades 10 and 11 into dual enrollment and high-quality work-based learning aligned to college and career pathways.

OPT seeks to demonstrate the value of creating an integrated support system for high school students by combining career and college readiness navigation support, work-based learning, and dual enrollment. Expected outcomes include improvements in academic achievement, student engagement, high school graduation rates, and successful postsecondary transitions for students who typically face barriers accessing strategic dual enrollment and work-based learning opportunities.

NORC at the University of Chicago will lead the evaluation of OPT’s implementation and impact.

Colorado Succeeds, a statewide education and workforce development organization, will collaborate with JFF on providing both customized and cross-cutting support.