7 Critical Questions Many Districts Overlook When Choosing A College and Career Readiness Platform

February 6, 2023

College and career readiness (CCR) platforms have incredible reach within a district. Nearly every secondary student engages with the platform in multiple ways over multiple years. CCR platforms can provide rich and robust opportunities for students to better understand their strengths, set goals, make action plans, and explore postsecondary options based on these variables. Middle and high school counselors rely on a district’s CCR platform to guide students on processes that are critical to college and career readiness and postsecondary success. And, a high-quality CCR platform can support counselors and administrators in monitoring student progress toward CCR goals or complying with state-mandated data reporting. 

A typical college and career readiness platform adoption starts with an identification of district need or a desire to improve current district practice. Once a district has decided it is seeking a new CCR platform, it begins the CCR platform adoption process–from the articulation of needs via RFP or other method, to a review and evaluation of responses, to the selection and implementation. 

As your district engages in this process, consider the questions below to ensure a thoughtful and nuanced CCR platform selection that has the potential to amplify the postsecondary success of students and transform the college and career readiness culture within your community. 

1. Does the district have clearly defined CCR hopes and goals for students? 

Once a district has established that it is seeking a new CCR platform, it takes relevant issues into account and more specifically defines the needs it has and the components it would like within a new CCR platform. This set of needs is often turned into an RFP. Responses to the RFP from vendors are measured entirely on how they align with the defined needs in the RFP. 

Because the procurement process requires responses to be judged against the articulated needs in an RFP, it is critical that districts engage in a thoughtful process of reflecting on and defining their hopes and ambitions for students, staff, and families with a new CCR platform. These must be clearly articulated in order to find a product that actually meets those goals and ambitions. Many districts treat finding a CCR platform like a software adoption and, therefore, limit their definition of stated needs to features sought from the platform. It is vital that districts expand this articulation of need. Building in broader goals around user experience and engagement allow the district to more thoroughly evaluate the depth, breadth, and quality of the CCR platform and, ultimately, select a platform that aligns with and meets district goals. 

2. Have you included student voice & input in the evaluation and selection process? 

Districts can adopt what seem to be incredibly powerful tools intended to transform student learning. But, if students do not use them, they add little value to a school or district. Put differently, a product is only as good as it gets used. Students are the primary user of college and career readiness platforms. And, student usage rates are a common early metric for districts to gauge implementation success. Despite these facts, however, platform adoption processes rarely include student feedback to product demos or previous resources as districts make this important decision. Including this student input into the selection process provides key information that can inform the likelihood that the platform will resonate with students. It also allows districts to consider variables they may be unaware of from a student user perspective. And, it broadens the buy-in from students for the product that is ultimately selected as they recognize that their voices were taken into account. 

3. Is the platform’s student experience inviting, intuitive, and personalized? 

For students, many of the components of college and career readiness platforms require them to engage in dynamic questions or processes over time as they reflect on their goals, explore potential postsecondary options, and seek out opportunities and experiences to help them learn and grow. Because of the nature of this work, it is critical that students are eager and excited to use the platform and that they feel the experience is able to be personalized to their specific profile of interests, needs, hopes, and dreams. It is essential that districts consider the overall user experience when they are selecting a CCR platform and whether it creates an environment that will nurture this cycle of engagement, reflection, and growth. Part of the CCR platform adoption should include a deep look into the quality of these user experiences and how that might impact use and engagement. 

4. How does the platform lighten the burden of counselor workloads? 

Another major benefit college and career readiness platforms can provide districts and schools is the ability to support the work of counselors–both in automating tasks and giving them tools to help them better support students and families. It is vital that as districts select a college and career readiness platform, they deeply consider how the platform will actually accomplish these goals. Taking into account how many day-to-day counselor tasks may be reduced or eliminated with each platform should be an important part of the process. A district might survey counselors to take stock of their most time-consuming tasks, areas of work that they most want resources to support, and other tracking or logistical challenges. Using this feedback to evaluate a college and career readiness platform’s offerings can help ensure that the eventual adoption actually provides meaningful support to counselors. Finding early alignment between the features offered and the actual needs, goals, and workstreams of the district will yield much higher usage and success rates over time. 

5. Is the platform easy for counselors to learn and navigate? 

Nearly all counselors have limited time and ever-expanding caseloads. And, unlike their digital native students, many veteran counselors are not fully comfortable with new technologies and learning new tools. A new CCR platform must make their work easier both by saving time and adding efficiencies to their processes. Counselors must see value in engaging with a CCR platform in order for it to become a standard part of their work. It cannot be frustrating to learn or hard to navigate; if it is, most will default to the previous way of doing things. In order to maximize its potential, districts must consider how easily counselors will be able to quickly learn and integrate the system into their daily work.

6. How does the CCR platform engage families & alumni? 

A robust college and career readiness culture extends well beyond the students and counselors within a school building. Students’ college and career exploration and postsecondary planning is enriched with feedback, insights, and collaboration from parents, caregivers, and those who have been in similar situations. Families can help add a layer of depth to student planning and provide often critical pieces of information and support, including help understanding financial aid options and documentation. Alumni who have graduated from a school can also offer valuable and unique advice, support, and mentorship opportunities for students, but remaining connected to those who have graduated can be challenging for schools. Finding a CCR platform that easily brings parents into this process, includes alumni-networking as part of its features, and streamlines communication with both groups of stakeholders will dramatically enhance the overall CCR planning process. 

7. How does the CCR platform catalyze connections with industry partners and community stakeholders?

Industry partnerships within a community can provide students with real-world learning opportunities to get first-hand experiences as they figure out what field they might want to pursue. These professionals can provide critical opportunities for mentorship and networking for students that they would not otherwise be able to access. And, local businesses can also provide financial and scholarship support to local students who might seek education and training in a related field. 

Forging relationships with local partners, however, can be a challenge for an individual or team of school counselors as it often relies on personal connections or time-intensive outreach. Considering whether a CCR platform streamlines this process and allows for students to be directly connected to these work-based learning opportunities and community stakeholders tremendously increases the opportunities available for students. Finding a CCR platform that expands a student’s support network to include the broader community can deepen its impact on the long-term CCR success of individual students and transform the CCR efforts of entire communities. 

College and career readiness (CCR) platforms have incredible reach within a district. Nearly every secondary student engages with the platform in multiple ways over multiple years. CCR platforms can provide rich and robust opportunities for students to better understand their strengths, set goals, make action plans, and explore postsecondary options based on these variables. Middle and high school counselors rely on a district’s CCR platform to guide students on processes that are critical to college and career readiness and postsecondary success. And, a high-quality CCR platform can support counselors and administrators in monitoring student progress toward CCR goals or complying with state-mandated data reporting. 

A typical college and career readiness platform adoption starts with an identification of district need or a desire to improve current district practice. Once a district has decided it is seeking a new CCR platform, it begins the CCR platform adoption process–from the articulation of needs via RFP or other method, to a review and evaluation of responses, to the selection and implementation. 

As your district engages in this process, consider the questions below to ensure a thoughtful and nuanced CCR platform selection that has the potential to amplify the postsecondary success of students and transform the college and career readiness culture within your community. 

1. Does the district have clearly defined CCR hopes and goals for students? 

Once a district has established that it is seeking a new CCR platform, it takes relevant issues into account and more specifically defines the needs it has and the components it would like within a new CCR platform. This set of needs is often turned into an RFP. Responses to the RFP from vendors are measured entirely on how they align with the defined needs in the RFP. 

Because the procurement process requires responses to be judged against the articulated needs in an RFP, it is critical that districts engage in a thoughtful process of reflecting on and defining their hopes and ambitions for students, staff, and families with a new CCR platform. These must be clearly articulated in order to find a product that actually meets those goals and ambitions. Many districts treat finding a CCR platform like a software adoption and, therefore, limit their definition of stated needs to features sought from the platform. It is vital that districts expand this articulation of need. Building in broader goals around user experience and engagement allow the district to more thoroughly evaluate the depth, breadth, and quality of the CCR platform and, ultimately, select a platform that aligns with and meets district goals. 

2. Have you included student voice & input in the evaluation and selection process? 

Districts can adopt what seem to be incredibly powerful tools intended to transform student learning. But, if students do not use them, they add little value to a school or district. Put differently, a product is only as good as it gets used. Students are the primary user of college and career readiness platforms. And, student usage rates are a common early metric for districts to gauge implementation success. Despite these facts, however, platform adoption processes rarely include student feedback to product demos or previous resources as districts make this important decision. Including this student input into the selection process provides key information that can inform the likelihood that the platform will resonate with students. It also allows districts to consider variables they may be unaware of from a student user perspective. And, it broadens the buy-in from students for the product that is ultimately selected as they recognize that their voices were taken into account. 

3. Is the platform’s student experience inviting, intuitive, and personalized? 

For students, many of the components of college and career readiness platforms require them to engage in dynamic questions or processes over time as they reflect on their goals, explore potential postsecondary options, and seek out opportunities and experiences to help them learn and grow. Because of the nature of this work, it is critical that students are eager and excited to use the platform and that they feel the experience is able to be personalized to their specific profile of interests, needs, hopes, and dreams. It is essential that districts consider the overall user experience when they are selecting a CCR platform and whether it creates an environment that will nurture this cycle of engagement, reflection, and growth. Part of the CCR platform adoption should include a deep look into the quality of these user experiences and how that might impact use and engagement. 

4. How does the platform lighten the burden of counselor workloads? 

Another major benefit college and career readiness platforms can provide districts and schools is the ability to support the work of counselors–both in automating tasks and giving them tools to help them better support students and families. It is vital that as districts select a college and career readiness platform, they deeply consider how the platform will actually accomplish these goals. Taking into account how many day-to-day counselor tasks may be reduced or eliminated with each platform should be an important part of the process. A district might survey counselors to take stock of their most time-consuming tasks, areas of work that they most want resources to support, and other tracking or logistical challenges. Using this feedback to evaluate a college and career readiness platform’s offerings can help ensure that the eventual adoption actually provides meaningful support to counselors. Finding early alignment between the features offered and the actual needs, goals, and workstreams of the district will yield much higher usage and success rates over time. 

5. Is the platform easy for counselors to learn and navigate? 

Nearly all counselors have limited time and ever-expanding caseloads. And, unlike their digital native students, many veteran counselors are not fully comfortable with new technologies and learning new tools. A new CCR platform must make their work easier both by saving time and adding efficiencies to their processes. Counselors must see value in engaging with a CCR platform in order for it to become a standard part of their work. It cannot be frustrating to learn or hard to navigate; if it is, most will default to the previous way of doing things. In order to maximize its potential, districts must consider how easily counselors will be able to quickly learn and integrate the system into their daily work.

6. How does the CCR platform engage families & alumni? 

A robust college and career readiness culture extends well beyond the students and counselors within a school building. Students’ college and career exploration and postsecondary planning is enriched with feedback, insights, and collaboration from parents, caregivers, and those who have been in similar situations. Families can help add a layer of depth to student planning and provide often critical pieces of information and support, including help understanding financial aid options and documentation. Alumni who have graduated from a school can also offer valuable and unique advice, support, and mentorship opportunities for students, but remaining connected to those who have graduated can be challenging for schools. Finding a CCR platform that easily brings parents into this process, includes alumni-networking as part of its features, and streamlines communication with both groups of stakeholders will dramatically enhance the overall CCR planning process. 

7. How does the CCR platform catalyze connections with industry partners and community stakeholders?

Industry partnerships within a community can provide students with real-world learning opportunities to get first-hand experiences as they figure out what field they might want to pursue. These professionals can provide critical opportunities for mentorship and networking for students that they would not otherwise be able to access. And, local businesses can also provide financial and scholarship support to local students who might seek education and training in a related field. 

Forging relationships with local partners, however, can be a challenge for an individual or team of school counselors as it often relies on personal connections or time-intensive outreach. Considering whether a CCR platform streamlines this process and allows for students to be directly connected to these work-based learning opportunities and community stakeholders tremendously increases the opportunities available for students. Finding a CCR platform that expands a student’s support network to include the broader community can deepen its impact on the long-term CCR success of individual students and transform the CCR efforts of entire communities. 

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College and career readiness (CCR) platforms have incredible reach within a district. Nearly every secondary student engages with the platform in multiple ways over multiple years. CCR platforms can provide rich and robust opportunities for students to better understand their strengths, set goals, make action plans, and explore postsecondary options based on these variables. Middle and high school counselors rely on a district’s CCR platform to guide students on processes that are critical to college and career readiness and postsecondary success. And, a high-quality CCR platform can support counselors and administrators in monitoring student progress toward CCR goals or complying with state-mandated data reporting. 

A typical college and career readiness platform adoption starts with an identification of district need or a desire to improve current district practice. Once a district has decided it is seeking a new CCR platform, it begins the CCR platform adoption process–from the articulation of needs via RFP or other method, to a review and evaluation of responses, to the selection and implementation. 

As your district engages in this process, consider the questions below to ensure a thoughtful and nuanced CCR platform selection that has the potential to amplify the postsecondary success of students and transform the college and career readiness culture within your community. 

1. Does the district have clearly defined CCR hopes and goals for students? 

Once a district has established that it is seeking a new CCR platform, it takes relevant issues into account and more specifically defines the needs it has and the components it would like within a new CCR platform. This set of needs is often turned into an RFP. Responses to the RFP from vendors are measured entirely on how they align with the defined needs in the RFP. 

Because the procurement process requires responses to be judged against the articulated needs in an RFP, it is critical that districts engage in a thoughtful process of reflecting on and defining their hopes and ambitions for students, staff, and families with a new CCR platform. These must be clearly articulated in order to find a product that actually meets those goals and ambitions. Many districts treat finding a CCR platform like a software adoption and, therefore, limit their definition of stated needs to features sought from the platform. It is vital that districts expand this articulation of need. Building in broader goals around user experience and engagement allow the district to more thoroughly evaluate the depth, breadth, and quality of the CCR platform and, ultimately, select a platform that aligns with and meets district goals. 

2. Have you included student voice & input in the evaluation and selection process? 

Districts can adopt what seem to be incredibly powerful tools intended to transform student learning. But, if students do not use them, they add little value to a school or district. Put differently, a product is only as good as it gets used. Students are the primary user of college and career readiness platforms. And, student usage rates are a common early metric for districts to gauge implementation success. Despite these facts, however, platform adoption processes rarely include student feedback to product demos or previous resources as districts make this important decision. Including this student input into the selection process provides key information that can inform the likelihood that the platform will resonate with students. It also allows districts to consider variables they may be unaware of from a student user perspective. And, it broadens the buy-in from students for the product that is ultimately selected as they recognize that their voices were taken into account. 

3. Is the platform’s student experience inviting, intuitive, and personalized? 

For students, many of the components of college and career readiness platforms require them to engage in dynamic questions or processes over time as they reflect on their goals, explore potential postsecondary options, and seek out opportunities and experiences to help them learn and grow. Because of the nature of this work, it is critical that students are eager and excited to use the platform and that they feel the experience is able to be personalized to their specific profile of interests, needs, hopes, and dreams. It is essential that districts consider the overall user experience when they are selecting a CCR platform and whether it creates an environment that will nurture this cycle of engagement, reflection, and growth. Part of the CCR platform adoption should include a deep look into the quality of these user experiences and how that might impact use and engagement. 

4. How does the platform lighten the burden of counselor workloads? 

Another major benefit college and career readiness platforms can provide districts and schools is the ability to support the work of counselors–both in automating tasks and giving them tools to help them better support students and families. It is vital that as districts select a college and career readiness platform, they deeply consider how the platform will actually accomplish these goals. Taking into account how many day-to-day counselor tasks may be reduced or eliminated with each platform should be an important part of the process. A district might survey counselors to take stock of their most time-consuming tasks, areas of work that they most want resources to support, and other tracking or logistical challenges. Using this feedback to evaluate a college and career readiness platform’s offerings can help ensure that the eventual adoption actually provides meaningful support to counselors. Finding early alignment between the features offered and the actual needs, goals, and workstreams of the district will yield much higher usage and success rates over time. 

5. Is the platform easy for counselors to learn and navigate? 

Nearly all counselors have limited time and ever-expanding caseloads. And, unlike their digital native students, many veteran counselors are not fully comfortable with new technologies and learning new tools. A new CCR platform must make their work easier both by saving time and adding efficiencies to their processes. Counselors must see value in engaging with a CCR platform in order for it to become a standard part of their work. It cannot be frustrating to learn or hard to navigate; if it is, most will default to the previous way of doing things. In order to maximize its potential, districts must consider how easily counselors will be able to quickly learn and integrate the system into their daily work.

6. How does the CCR platform engage families & alumni? 

A robust college and career readiness culture extends well beyond the students and counselors within a school building. Students’ college and career exploration and postsecondary planning is enriched with feedback, insights, and collaboration from parents, caregivers, and those who have been in similar situations. Families can help add a layer of depth to student planning and provide often critical pieces of information and support, including help understanding financial aid options and documentation. Alumni who have graduated from a school can also offer valuable and unique advice, support, and mentorship opportunities for students, but remaining connected to those who have graduated can be challenging for schools. Finding a CCR platform that easily brings parents into this process, includes alumni-networking as part of its features, and streamlines communication with both groups of stakeholders will dramatically enhance the overall CCR planning process. 

7. How does the CCR platform catalyze connections with industry partners and community stakeholders?

Industry partnerships within a community can provide students with real-world learning opportunities to get first-hand experiences as they figure out what field they might want to pursue. These professionals can provide critical opportunities for mentorship and networking for students that they would not otherwise be able to access. And, local businesses can also provide financial and scholarship support to local students who might seek education and training in a related field. 

Forging relationships with local partners, however, can be a challenge for an individual or team of school counselors as it often relies on personal connections or time-intensive outreach. Considering whether a CCR platform streamlines this process and allows for students to be directly connected to these work-based learning opportunities and community stakeholders tremendously increases the opportunities available for students. Finding a CCR platform that expands a student’s support network to include the broader community can deepen its impact on the long-term CCR success of individual students and transform the CCR efforts of entire communities. 

College and career readiness (CCR) platforms have incredible reach within a district. Nearly every secondary student engages with the platform in multiple ways over multiple years. CCR platforms can provide rich and robust opportunities for students to better understand their strengths, set goals, make action plans, and explore postsecondary options based on these variables. Middle and high school counselors rely on a district’s CCR platform to guide students on processes that are critical to college and career readiness and postsecondary success. And, a high-quality CCR platform can support counselors and administrators in monitoring student progress toward CCR goals or complying with state-mandated data reporting. 

A typical college and career readiness platform adoption starts with an identification of district need or a desire to improve current district practice. Once a district has decided it is seeking a new CCR platform, it begins the CCR platform adoption process–from the articulation of needs via RFP or other method, to a review and evaluation of responses, to the selection and implementation. 

As your district engages in this process, consider the questions below to ensure a thoughtful and nuanced CCR platform selection that has the potential to amplify the postsecondary success of students and transform the college and career readiness culture within your community. 

1. Does the district have clearly defined CCR hopes and goals for students? 

Once a district has established that it is seeking a new CCR platform, it takes relevant issues into account and more specifically defines the needs it has and the components it would like within a new CCR platform. This set of needs is often turned into an RFP. Responses to the RFP from vendors are measured entirely on how they align with the defined needs in the RFP. 

Because the procurement process requires responses to be judged against the articulated needs in an RFP, it is critical that districts engage in a thoughtful process of reflecting on and defining their hopes and ambitions for students, staff, and families with a new CCR platform. These must be clearly articulated in order to find a product that actually meets those goals and ambitions. Many districts treat finding a CCR platform like a software adoption and, therefore, limit their definition of stated needs to features sought from the platform. It is vital that districts expand this articulation of need. Building in broader goals around user experience and engagement allow the district to more thoroughly evaluate the depth, breadth, and quality of the CCR platform and, ultimately, select a platform that aligns with and meets district goals. 

2. Have you included student voice & input in the evaluation and selection process? 

Districts can adopt what seem to be incredibly powerful tools intended to transform student learning. But, if students do not use them, they add little value to a school or district. Put differently, a product is only as good as it gets used. Students are the primary user of college and career readiness platforms. And, student usage rates are a common early metric for districts to gauge implementation success. Despite these facts, however, platform adoption processes rarely include student feedback to product demos or previous resources as districts make this important decision. Including this student input into the selection process provides key information that can inform the likelihood that the platform will resonate with students. It also allows districts to consider variables they may be unaware of from a student user perspective. And, it broadens the buy-in from students for the product that is ultimately selected as they recognize that their voices were taken into account. 

3. Is the platform’s student experience inviting, intuitive, and personalized? 

For students, many of the components of college and career readiness platforms require them to engage in dynamic questions or processes over time as they reflect on their goals, explore potential postsecondary options, and seek out opportunities and experiences to help them learn and grow. Because of the nature of this work, it is critical that students are eager and excited to use the platform and that they feel the experience is able to be personalized to their specific profile of interests, needs, hopes, and dreams. It is essential that districts consider the overall user experience when they are selecting a CCR platform and whether it creates an environment that will nurture this cycle of engagement, reflection, and growth. Part of the CCR platform adoption should include a deep look into the quality of these user experiences and how that might impact use and engagement. 

4. How does the platform lighten the burden of counselor workloads? 

Another major benefit college and career readiness platforms can provide districts and schools is the ability to support the work of counselors–both in automating tasks and giving them tools to help them better support students and families. It is vital that as districts select a college and career readiness platform, they deeply consider how the platform will actually accomplish these goals. Taking into account how many day-to-day counselor tasks may be reduced or eliminated with each platform should be an important part of the process. A district might survey counselors to take stock of their most time-consuming tasks, areas of work that they most want resources to support, and other tracking or logistical challenges. Using this feedback to evaluate a college and career readiness platform’s offerings can help ensure that the eventual adoption actually provides meaningful support to counselors. Finding early alignment between the features offered and the actual needs, goals, and workstreams of the district will yield much higher usage and success rates over time. 

5. Is the platform easy for counselors to learn and navigate? 

Nearly all counselors have limited time and ever-expanding caseloads. And, unlike their digital native students, many veteran counselors are not fully comfortable with new technologies and learning new tools. A new CCR platform must make their work easier both by saving time and adding efficiencies to their processes. Counselors must see value in engaging with a CCR platform in order for it to become a standard part of their work. It cannot be frustrating to learn or hard to navigate; if it is, most will default to the previous way of doing things. In order to maximize its potential, districts must consider how easily counselors will be able to quickly learn and integrate the system into their daily work.

6. How does the CCR platform engage families & alumni? 

A robust college and career readiness culture extends well beyond the students and counselors within a school building. Students’ college and career exploration and postsecondary planning is enriched with feedback, insights, and collaboration from parents, caregivers, and those who have been in similar situations. Families can help add a layer of depth to student planning and provide often critical pieces of information and support, including help understanding financial aid options and documentation. Alumni who have graduated from a school can also offer valuable and unique advice, support, and mentorship opportunities for students, but remaining connected to those who have graduated can be challenging for schools. Finding a CCR platform that easily brings parents into this process, includes alumni-networking as part of its features, and streamlines communication with both groups of stakeholders will dramatically enhance the overall CCR planning process. 

7. How does the CCR platform catalyze connections with industry partners and community stakeholders?

Industry partnerships within a community can provide students with real-world learning opportunities to get first-hand experiences as they figure out what field they might want to pursue. These professionals can provide critical opportunities for mentorship and networking for students that they would not otherwise be able to access. And, local businesses can also provide financial and scholarship support to local students who might seek education and training in a related field. 

Forging relationships with local partners, however, can be a challenge for an individual or team of school counselors as it often relies on personal connections or time-intensive outreach. Considering whether a CCR platform streamlines this process and allows for students to be directly connected to these work-based learning opportunities and community stakeholders tremendously increases the opportunities available for students. Finding a CCR platform that expands a student’s support network to include the broader community can deepen its impact on the long-term CCR success of individual students and transform the CCR efforts of entire communities. 

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College and career readiness (CCR) platforms have incredible reach within a district. Nearly every secondary student engages with the platform in multiple ways over multiple years. CCR platforms can provide rich and robust opportunities for students to better understand their strengths, set goals, make action plans, and explore postsecondary options based on these variables. Middle and high school counselors rely on a district’s CCR platform to guide students on processes that are critical to college and career readiness and postsecondary success. And, a high-quality CCR platform can support counselors and administrators in monitoring student progress toward CCR goals or complying with state-mandated data reporting. 

A typical college and career readiness platform adoption starts with an identification of district need or a desire to improve current district practice. Once a district has decided it is seeking a new CCR platform, it begins the CCR platform adoption process–from the articulation of needs via RFP or other method, to a review and evaluation of responses, to the selection and implementation. 

As your district engages in this process, consider the questions below to ensure a thoughtful and nuanced CCR platform selection that has the potential to amplify the postsecondary success of students and transform the college and career readiness culture within your community. 

1. Does the district have clearly defined CCR hopes and goals for students? 

Once a district has established that it is seeking a new CCR platform, it takes relevant issues into account and more specifically defines the needs it has and the components it would like within a new CCR platform. This set of needs is often turned into an RFP. Responses to the RFP from vendors are measured entirely on how they align with the defined needs in the RFP. 

Because the procurement process requires responses to be judged against the articulated needs in an RFP, it is critical that districts engage in a thoughtful process of reflecting on and defining their hopes and ambitions for students, staff, and families with a new CCR platform. These must be clearly articulated in order to find a product that actually meets those goals and ambitions. Many districts treat finding a CCR platform like a software adoption and, therefore, limit their definition of stated needs to features sought from the platform. It is vital that districts expand this articulation of need. Building in broader goals around user experience and engagement allow the district to more thoroughly evaluate the depth, breadth, and quality of the CCR platform and, ultimately, select a platform that aligns with and meets district goals. 

2. Have you included student voice & input in the evaluation and selection process? 

Districts can adopt what seem to be incredibly powerful tools intended to transform student learning. But, if students do not use them, they add little value to a school or district. Put differently, a product is only as good as it gets used. Students are the primary user of college and career readiness platforms. And, student usage rates are a common early metric for districts to gauge implementation success. Despite these facts, however, platform adoption processes rarely include student feedback to product demos or previous resources as districts make this important decision. Including this student input into the selection process provides key information that can inform the likelihood that the platform will resonate with students. It also allows districts to consider variables they may be unaware of from a student user perspective. And, it broadens the buy-in from students for the product that is ultimately selected as they recognize that their voices were taken into account. 

3. Is the platform’s student experience inviting, intuitive, and personalized? 

For students, many of the components of college and career readiness platforms require them to engage in dynamic questions or processes over time as they reflect on their goals, explore potential postsecondary options, and seek out opportunities and experiences to help them learn and grow. Because of the nature of this work, it is critical that students are eager and excited to use the platform and that they feel the experience is able to be personalized to their specific profile of interests, needs, hopes, and dreams. It is essential that districts consider the overall user experience when they are selecting a CCR platform and whether it creates an environment that will nurture this cycle of engagement, reflection, and growth. Part of the CCR platform adoption should include a deep look into the quality of these user experiences and how that might impact use and engagement. 

4. How does the platform lighten the burden of counselor workloads? 

Another major benefit college and career readiness platforms can provide districts and schools is the ability to support the work of counselors–both in automating tasks and giving them tools to help them better support students and families. It is vital that as districts select a college and career readiness platform, they deeply consider how the platform will actually accomplish these goals. Taking into account how many day-to-day counselor tasks may be reduced or eliminated with each platform should be an important part of the process. A district might survey counselors to take stock of their most time-consuming tasks, areas of work that they most want resources to support, and other tracking or logistical challenges. Using this feedback to evaluate a college and career readiness platform’s offerings can help ensure that the eventual adoption actually provides meaningful support to counselors. Finding early alignment between the features offered and the actual needs, goals, and workstreams of the district will yield much higher usage and success rates over time. 

5. Is the platform easy for counselors to learn and navigate? 

Nearly all counselors have limited time and ever-expanding caseloads. And, unlike their digital native students, many veteran counselors are not fully comfortable with new technologies and learning new tools. A new CCR platform must make their work easier both by saving time and adding efficiencies to their processes. Counselors must see value in engaging with a CCR platform in order for it to become a standard part of their work. It cannot be frustrating to learn or hard to navigate; if it is, most will default to the previous way of doing things. In order to maximize its potential, districts must consider how easily counselors will be able to quickly learn and integrate the system into their daily work.

6. How does the CCR platform engage families & alumni? 

A robust college and career readiness culture extends well beyond the students and counselors within a school building. Students’ college and career exploration and postsecondary planning is enriched with feedback, insights, and collaboration from parents, caregivers, and those who have been in similar situations. Families can help add a layer of depth to student planning and provide often critical pieces of information and support, including help understanding financial aid options and documentation. Alumni who have graduated from a school can also offer valuable and unique advice, support, and mentorship opportunities for students, but remaining connected to those who have graduated can be challenging for schools. Finding a CCR platform that easily brings parents into this process, includes alumni-networking as part of its features, and streamlines communication with both groups of stakeholders will dramatically enhance the overall CCR planning process. 

7. How does the CCR platform catalyze connections with industry partners and community stakeholders?

Industry partnerships within a community can provide students with real-world learning opportunities to get first-hand experiences as they figure out what field they might want to pursue. These professionals can provide critical opportunities for mentorship and networking for students that they would not otherwise be able to access. And, local businesses can also provide financial and scholarship support to local students who might seek education and training in a related field. 

Forging relationships with local partners, however, can be a challenge for an individual or team of school counselors as it often relies on personal connections or time-intensive outreach. Considering whether a CCR platform streamlines this process and allows for students to be directly connected to these work-based learning opportunities and community stakeholders tremendously increases the opportunities available for students. Finding a CCR platform that expands a student’s support network to include the broader community can deepen its impact on the long-term CCR success of individual students and transform the CCR efforts of entire communities. 

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College and career readiness (CCR) platforms have incredible reach within a district. Nearly every secondary student engages with the platform in multiple ways over multiple years. CCR platforms can provide rich and robust opportunities for students to better understand their strengths, set goals, make action plans, and explore postsecondary options based on these variables. Middle and high school counselors rely on a district’s CCR platform to guide students on processes that are critical to college and career readiness and postsecondary success. And, a high-quality CCR platform can support counselors and administrators in monitoring student progress toward CCR goals or complying with state-mandated data reporting. 

A typical college and career readiness platform adoption starts with an identification of district need or a desire to improve current district practice. Once a district has decided it is seeking a new CCR platform, it begins the CCR platform adoption process–from the articulation of needs via RFP or other method, to a review and evaluation of responses, to the selection and implementation. 

As your district engages in this process, consider the questions below to ensure a thoughtful and nuanced CCR platform selection that has the potential to amplify the postsecondary success of students and transform the college and career readiness culture within your community. 

1. Does the district have clearly defined CCR hopes and goals for students? 

Once a district has established that it is seeking a new CCR platform, it takes relevant issues into account and more specifically defines the needs it has and the components it would like within a new CCR platform. This set of needs is often turned into an RFP. Responses to the RFP from vendors are measured entirely on how they align with the defined needs in the RFP. 

Because the procurement process requires responses to be judged against the articulated needs in an RFP, it is critical that districts engage in a thoughtful process of reflecting on and defining their hopes and ambitions for students, staff, and families with a new CCR platform. These must be clearly articulated in order to find a product that actually meets those goals and ambitions. Many districts treat finding a CCR platform like a software adoption and, therefore, limit their definition of stated needs to features sought from the platform. It is vital that districts expand this articulation of need. Building in broader goals around user experience and engagement allow the district to more thoroughly evaluate the depth, breadth, and quality of the CCR platform and, ultimately, select a platform that aligns with and meets district goals. 

2. Have you included student voice & input in the evaluation and selection process? 

Districts can adopt what seem to be incredibly powerful tools intended to transform student learning. But, if students do not use them, they add little value to a school or district. Put differently, a product is only as good as it gets used. Students are the primary user of college and career readiness platforms. And, student usage rates are a common early metric for districts to gauge implementation success. Despite these facts, however, platform adoption processes rarely include student feedback to product demos or previous resources as districts make this important decision. Including this student input into the selection process provides key information that can inform the likelihood that the platform will resonate with students. It also allows districts to consider variables they may be unaware of from a student user perspective. And, it broadens the buy-in from students for the product that is ultimately selected as they recognize that their voices were taken into account. 

3. Is the platform’s student experience inviting, intuitive, and personalized? 

For students, many of the components of college and career readiness platforms require them to engage in dynamic questions or processes over time as they reflect on their goals, explore potential postsecondary options, and seek out opportunities and experiences to help them learn and grow. Because of the nature of this work, it is critical that students are eager and excited to use the platform and that they feel the experience is able to be personalized to their specific profile of interests, needs, hopes, and dreams. It is essential that districts consider the overall user experience when they are selecting a CCR platform and whether it creates an environment that will nurture this cycle of engagement, reflection, and growth. Part of the CCR platform adoption should include a deep look into the quality of these user experiences and how that might impact use and engagement. 

4. How does the platform lighten the burden of counselor workloads? 

Another major benefit college and career readiness platforms can provide districts and schools is the ability to support the work of counselors–both in automating tasks and giving them tools to help them better support students and families. It is vital that as districts select a college and career readiness platform, they deeply consider how the platform will actually accomplish these goals. Taking into account how many day-to-day counselor tasks may be reduced or eliminated with each platform should be an important part of the process. A district might survey counselors to take stock of their most time-consuming tasks, areas of work that they most want resources to support, and other tracking or logistical challenges. Using this feedback to evaluate a college and career readiness platform’s offerings can help ensure that the eventual adoption actually provides meaningful support to counselors. Finding early alignment between the features offered and the actual needs, goals, and workstreams of the district will yield much higher usage and success rates over time. 

5. Is the platform easy for counselors to learn and navigate? 

Nearly all counselors have limited time and ever-expanding caseloads. And, unlike their digital native students, many veteran counselors are not fully comfortable with new technologies and learning new tools. A new CCR platform must make their work easier both by saving time and adding efficiencies to their processes. Counselors must see value in engaging with a CCR platform in order for it to become a standard part of their work. It cannot be frustrating to learn or hard to navigate; if it is, most will default to the previous way of doing things. In order to maximize its potential, districts must consider how easily counselors will be able to quickly learn and integrate the system into their daily work.

6. How does the CCR platform engage families & alumni? 

A robust college and career readiness culture extends well beyond the students and counselors within a school building. Students’ college and career exploration and postsecondary planning is enriched with feedback, insights, and collaboration from parents, caregivers, and those who have been in similar situations. Families can help add a layer of depth to student planning and provide often critical pieces of information and support, including help understanding financial aid options and documentation. Alumni who have graduated from a school can also offer valuable and unique advice, support, and mentorship opportunities for students, but remaining connected to those who have graduated can be challenging for schools. Finding a CCR platform that easily brings parents into this process, includes alumni-networking as part of its features, and streamlines communication with both groups of stakeholders will dramatically enhance the overall CCR planning process. 

7. How does the CCR platform catalyze connections with industry partners and community stakeholders?

Industry partnerships within a community can provide students with real-world learning opportunities to get first-hand experiences as they figure out what field they might want to pursue. These professionals can provide critical opportunities for mentorship and networking for students that they would not otherwise be able to access. And, local businesses can also provide financial and scholarship support to local students who might seek education and training in a related field. 

Forging relationships with local partners, however, can be a challenge for an individual or team of school counselors as it often relies on personal connections or time-intensive outreach. Considering whether a CCR platform streamlines this process and allows for students to be directly connected to these work-based learning opportunities and community stakeholders tremendously increases the opportunities available for students. Finding a CCR platform that expands a student’s support network to include the broader community can deepen its impact on the long-term CCR success of individual students and transform the CCR efforts of entire communities. 

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College and career readiness (CCR) platforms have incredible reach within a district. Nearly every secondary student engages with the platform in multiple ways over multiple years. CCR platforms can provide rich and robust opportunities for students to better understand their strengths, set goals, make action plans, and explore postsecondary options based on these variables. Middle and high school counselors rely on a district’s CCR platform to guide students on processes that are critical to college and career readiness and postsecondary success. And, a high-quality CCR platform can support counselors and administrators in monitoring student progress toward CCR goals or complying with state-mandated data reporting. 

A typical college and career readiness platform adoption starts with an identification of district need or a desire to improve current district practice. Once a district has decided it is seeking a new CCR platform, it begins the CCR platform adoption process–from the articulation of needs via RFP or other method, to a review and evaluation of responses, to the selection and implementation. 

As your district engages in this process, consider the questions below to ensure a thoughtful and nuanced CCR platform selection that has the potential to amplify the postsecondary success of students and transform the college and career readiness culture within your community. 

1. Does the district have clearly defined CCR hopes and goals for students? 

Once a district has established that it is seeking a new CCR platform, it takes relevant issues into account and more specifically defines the needs it has and the components it would like within a new CCR platform. This set of needs is often turned into an RFP. Responses to the RFP from vendors are measured entirely on how they align with the defined needs in the RFP. 

Because the procurement process requires responses to be judged against the articulated needs in an RFP, it is critical that districts engage in a thoughtful process of reflecting on and defining their hopes and ambitions for students, staff, and families with a new CCR platform. These must be clearly articulated in order to find a product that actually meets those goals and ambitions. Many districts treat finding a CCR platform like a software adoption and, therefore, limit their definition of stated needs to features sought from the platform. It is vital that districts expand this articulation of need. Building in broader goals around user experience and engagement allow the district to more thoroughly evaluate the depth, breadth, and quality of the CCR platform and, ultimately, select a platform that aligns with and meets district goals. 

2. Have you included student voice & input in the evaluation and selection process? 

Districts can adopt what seem to be incredibly powerful tools intended to transform student learning. But, if students do not use them, they add little value to a school or district. Put differently, a product is only as good as it gets used. Students are the primary user of college and career readiness platforms. And, student usage rates are a common early metric for districts to gauge implementation success. Despite these facts, however, platform adoption processes rarely include student feedback to product demos or previous resources as districts make this important decision. Including this student input into the selection process provides key information that can inform the likelihood that the platform will resonate with students. It also allows districts to consider variables they may be unaware of from a student user perspective. And, it broadens the buy-in from students for the product that is ultimately selected as they recognize that their voices were taken into account. 

3. Is the platform’s student experience inviting, intuitive, and personalized? 

For students, many of the components of college and career readiness platforms require them to engage in dynamic questions or processes over time as they reflect on their goals, explore potential postsecondary options, and seek out opportunities and experiences to help them learn and grow. Because of the nature of this work, it is critical that students are eager and excited to use the platform and that they feel the experience is able to be personalized to their specific profile of interests, needs, hopes, and dreams. It is essential that districts consider the overall user experience when they are selecting a CCR platform and whether it creates an environment that will nurture this cycle of engagement, reflection, and growth. Part of the CCR platform adoption should include a deep look into the quality of these user experiences and how that might impact use and engagement. 

4. How does the platform lighten the burden of counselor workloads? 

Another major benefit college and career readiness platforms can provide districts and schools is the ability to support the work of counselors–both in automating tasks and giving them tools to help them better support students and families. It is vital that as districts select a college and career readiness platform, they deeply consider how the platform will actually accomplish these goals. Taking into account how many day-to-day counselor tasks may be reduced or eliminated with each platform should be an important part of the process. A district might survey counselors to take stock of their most time-consuming tasks, areas of work that they most want resources to support, and other tracking or logistical challenges. Using this feedback to evaluate a college and career readiness platform’s offerings can help ensure that the eventual adoption actually provides meaningful support to counselors. Finding early alignment between the features offered and the actual needs, goals, and workstreams of the district will yield much higher usage and success rates over time. 

5. Is the platform easy for counselors to learn and navigate? 

Nearly all counselors have limited time and ever-expanding caseloads. And, unlike their digital native students, many veteran counselors are not fully comfortable with new technologies and learning new tools. A new CCR platform must make their work easier both by saving time and adding efficiencies to their processes. Counselors must see value in engaging with a CCR platform in order for it to become a standard part of their work. It cannot be frustrating to learn or hard to navigate; if it is, most will default to the previous way of doing things. In order to maximize its potential, districts must consider how easily counselors will be able to quickly learn and integrate the system into their daily work.

6. How does the CCR platform engage families & alumni? 

A robust college and career readiness culture extends well beyond the students and counselors within a school building. Students’ college and career exploration and postsecondary planning is enriched with feedback, insights, and collaboration from parents, caregivers, and those who have been in similar situations. Families can help add a layer of depth to student planning and provide often critical pieces of information and support, including help understanding financial aid options and documentation. Alumni who have graduated from a school can also offer valuable and unique advice, support, and mentorship opportunities for students, but remaining connected to those who have graduated can be challenging for schools. Finding a CCR platform that easily brings parents into this process, includes alumni-networking as part of its features, and streamlines communication with both groups of stakeholders will dramatically enhance the overall CCR planning process. 

7. How does the CCR platform catalyze connections with industry partners and community stakeholders?

Industry partnerships within a community can provide students with real-world learning opportunities to get first-hand experiences as they figure out what field they might want to pursue. These professionals can provide critical opportunities for mentorship and networking for students that they would not otherwise be able to access. And, local businesses can also provide financial and scholarship support to local students who might seek education and training in a related field. 

Forging relationships with local partners, however, can be a challenge for an individual or team of school counselors as it often relies on personal connections or time-intensive outreach. Considering whether a CCR platform streamlines this process and allows for students to be directly connected to these work-based learning opportunities and community stakeholders tremendously increases the opportunities available for students. Finding a CCR platform that expands a student’s support network to include the broader community can deepen its impact on the long-term CCR success of individual students and transform the CCR efforts of entire communities.