Four Steps to Postsecondary Success
DISTRICT | September 15, 2020
Four Steps to Postsecondary Success

Postsecondary planning has never been more important and CPS educators, staff, and students have never been more committed to ensuring all high school graduates are set up for success: the Class of 2020 was not only the first to benefit from our Learn.Plan.Succeed. initiative, 97.5% of last year’s seniors finished school with a concrete plan for success after graduation. 

While we’re starting the 2020–21 school year learning from home, the steps students should take to ensure they’re prepared for postsecondary life are still the same:

1. Find

The path to postsecondary success looks different for each of our students. Conversations with school counselors, college and career coaches, teachers, and trusted peers and family, can help students in grades 6 – 12 start to define what their next steps should be after high school graduation, including:

Students should also use resources such as the Naviance Planning Tool, a platform for exploring colleges and careers that best match their individual interests.

2. Apply 

During the first quarter of the school year, rising seniors should identify and apply to the programs or positions at specific colleges, universities, employers and organizations best suited to help them realize their dreams after high school. 

Students should not only be mindful that they have completed all application requirements (including attaching letters of recommendation from educators, writing requested entrance essays and completing SAT/ACT testing), they should also ensure they have a financial plan in place to support their applications. 

Applicants to higher education, for example, should ensure they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid before winter break and use CPS’ Academic Works scholarship tool and scholarship-specific social media accounts (on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to find other financial aid opportunities for which they may be eligible. 

Learn.Plan.Succeed Virtual Roundtable 

3. Choose

Before a student receives their diploma, they need to submit evidence of their postsecondary plan for life beyond high school to their school. This could include a letter of acceptance from a college, an offer of employment, or a military enlistment contract. 

4. Follow Through

After the school year ends, it’s essential that students stick with their plan. To avoid “summer melt” and loss of progress, Summer Transition Coordinators are available to help students navigate registering for college classes, finding new housing and more. More than 11,000 Class of 2020 graduates used summer support to help ensure they received the support needed to follow through on their selected pathway. 

For more information on postsecondary planning or the Learn.Plan.Succeed. initiative, contact your school or the Office of College and Career Success: 773-553-2108 or