College and career ready: Youth perspectives and programs that work

Make your future bright by gaining career insight through these online and hands-on programs.

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If you do not have a concrete plan after you graduate high school, you are not alone. YouthTruth, a national nonprofit organization, conducted surveys of over 165,000 students nationwide to get a youth perspective on their college and career readiness. Their recent survey indicated the vast majority of high school students plan to continue their education beyond high school (89%). However, there was a serious gap on how well-prepared young people feel with less than half (45%) who felt positively about their college and career readiness. Only 46% of the students indicated their school helped them match their interests and abilities to potential careers. Another study by Achieve found six in 10 high school graduates would have worked harder if they understood the expectations of college and the working world.

To help make the world of work connection, there are many hands-on activities students can do while still in high school through Michigan State University Extension 4-H youth program. With over 200 project areas and an office in every county, there are numerous opportunities to explore career interests locally. In 2017, 12,500 youth were involved in Michigan 4-H career exploration and workforce development programming.

Of those surveyed:

  • 98% understood they were responsible for their financial future.
  • 90% were prepared for a job interview and knew the importance of networking.
  • 96% could connect their interests and skills to viable career options.
  • 82% knew where they wanted to end up and had a plan on how to get there.

Have you ever wanted to talk with someone in a career you are interested in but do not know where to start? MI Bright Future was developed to meet this need. Through this interactive online system, young people throughout Michigan can connect to professional and business people, ask questions, learn about internships, participate in job shadowing opportunities, browse company profiles and much more. As of March 2019, there were 677 businesses, 1190 career coaches including many from Michigan State University Extension, and 4771 work based experiences registered in the system to help you learn about the world of work anytime, anywhere.

To help make the world of work connection, MI Bright Future seems to be making a difference. In a recent survey:

  • 91% of students using the technology behind MI Bright Future said it helped them realize the importance of doing well in school to get the job they want.
  • 86% of students using the technology confirmed it helped them feel better prepared to make educational and career decisions.

Michigan State University Extension and MI Bright Future and have a wealth of career planning resources and programs to help you explore and begin making a plan today so you can reach your career goals.

For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or entrepreneurship, contact

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