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Career and College Day Toolkit

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Learn how to host events to introduce students to the different types of careers and colleges.

Choose from three types of events that provide insight into different careers and the education requirements for these professions as well as basic information about colleges.

Why career and college days matter

Studies report that understanding the link between education and career aspirations may be the single largest impact on an individual student’s likelihood of completing college. In fact, high school graduates who expect they will need a college degree for the career they are interested in are more than six times as likely to earn their bachelor’s degrees.

Students who understand the relevance of a college education on  their career interests are also more likely to be academically prepared for college and career.

Students sit in a library listening to guest speakers at Oakridge Junior/Senior High School
Career guest speakers discuss their typical day and education requirements with students.

Before the event

Don't go it alone! Recruit a team of parents, teachers, students and even community members or business leaders to serve on the planning committee. Use our Career and College Day Checklist to stay organized.

Choose an event

Consider your audience, the purpose of the event, and your budget when deciding what type of event to hold. Events should be grade-level appropriate and build on each other throughout a student's education. Use our Career and College Day Planning Guide to outline your school's plan.

Career guest speaker

Audience: Middle and high school students 
Effort: ★☆☆ 
Timing: During the school day 
Bonus: Can be held on one day or spread throughout the school year

What it is: Invite local businesses and community members to share their story—how they got into their chosen field, education requirements for the profession, and a typical day on the job.

How to do it: Have one classroom/presenter with a school staff member on hand. Have students choose the careers they wish to hear about and rotate to different rooms after short (15-20 minute) presentations.

Alternatively, have one presenter come during the lunch hour each month and invite interested students to attend. Offer pizza or other special food item to entice students to attend.

Another option is to host virtual presenters using free video chat software. Check out Oregon Connections and Skype a Scientist to interact with STEM professionals across the state and the nation.

Career and college fair

Audience: Middle and high school students 
Effort: ★★☆ 
Timing: During or after the school day 
Bonus: Reach many students and parents at once

What it is: Local businesses, community members and colleges set up tables/booths in a central location to talk to students and parents who are interested in their field or programs.

How to do it: Group similar businesses near each other, organized by career pathways. Provide students with a “passport” that they  must fill out during the fair that connects degree programs with careers.

Another option is to make students the experts in a student-led career and college fair. As part of a class assignment, students research and present about a career or college of their choice.

Career and college carnival

Audience: Elementary and middle school students 
Effort: ★★★ 
Timing: During or after the school day 
Bonus: Reach many students and parents in a fun atmosphere

What it is: Provide games and activities for students to learn the importance of college, how to pay for higher education,  and the kinds of jobs they might be interested in.

How to do it: Start students (and families) thinking early about college and what it takes to get there. Prepare students ahead of time with key information and samples of activities.

Have a variety of booths with different activities (each with a key concept about careers and colleges) for participants to rotate through in a fun and festive environment.

Work out logistics

Determine dates, location, and food or beverage if applicable.

Figure out what items you may need to print or prep for the event. This could include printing nametags or Career Day Student Passports or acquiring items for the Career and College Carnival (coming soon).

Contact volunteers

Utilize your local businesses and colleges to serve as presenters. Reach out to parents, alumni, and other community members as well. Keep track of who you've reached out and their response and send them details with times, parking information, and presentation suggestions. Use our Presenter Information templates to invite and provide them with the logistics.

Think broadly. Try to have a range of presenters that represent each of Oregon's six career skill sets, as well as jobs that require different types of degrees.

Careers magazine lying next to a computer
Use free copies of the Oregon Careers magazine to prepare students.

Prepare students

Career and college days are most effective when paired with opportunities both before and after the event to explore interests, career options and the requisite education.

Explore interests and careers

Help students explore their own interests and how they connect to careers. Consider using one of the resources below in conjunction with our Building a Career Pathway worksheet or Name That Job activity.

We also provide a lesson plan as part of the Career and College Carnival (coming soon) to pre-teach the concepts that will be reinforced during the event.

Oregon career resources

  • Oregon CIS: A free, online curriculum with information about occupations and industries, postsecondary programs and schools, and financial aid. 
  • Oregon Careers: An annual publication geared towards students that includes career profiles, information on Oregon colleges, and articles. A resource and activity guide for educators is also available. Order free copies in Spanish and English from Worksource Oregon.

Discuss expectations

Remind students of appropriate etiquette and behavior when interacting with professionals. Students should also be prepared with appropriate questions for presenters. Encourage students to brainstorm questions, using the examples below as a starting point.

Questions for professionals
What kind of degree or certificate do you have?
From which college or program did you graduate?
What do you like and dislike about your job?
What is a typical day for you?
How did you decide this was the career for you?
What can I expect to earn as a beginner in this field? What is the average mid-salary?
What other careers could I have with your degree?
How do you see jobs changing in this field in the next 5 years?
If you could go back, would you change anything about how you reached where you are now?
What classes should I take in high school to be prepared for this career?
What advice can you give me about this field?


Student stands in front of a display of George Fox University at Lowell Junior/Senior High School
A student shares what she learned with her peers at a student-led college fair.

After the event

Assess the impact of the career and college day event and identify areas to improve for future events with our Career Day Evaluations for students and professionals.

Send thank you notes written by you or the students to the volunteers. Our Presenter Information includes a template for a thank you note.

Reinforce learning outcomes with further career exploration in class as well as with field trips, job shadows, internships or other career-related learning experiences.