Preparing your child for success after high school

Jobs in our country are increasingly requiring specialized training and education beyond high school. For many jobs, a high school diploma is not enough. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2021 and 2031, jobs that require some formal education after high school are predicted to grow above average rates. Estimates suggest that as many as two-thirds of all jobs in the U.S. will require some form of postsecondary education or training by the end of the decade. The Future Ready Iowa goal is to have 70 percent of Iowans with education and training beyond high school by 2025. What can parents do to support their child’s preparation for future success?

  • Support early literacy skills. Read to your child, talk about reading, and model the different ways reading is used in adult life. This can include books, articles, filling out applications, recipes and more.
  • Help your child explore interests. Talk about classes and career opportunities that could help them identify possible interests. Volunteering and community service projects are another way to explore. Even if they learn what they don’t want to be, it helps narrow ideas and match the learning required with possible career fields.
  • Get to know the school counselor. The counselor has a role in supporting your child’s social and emotional growth, and the school counselor helps provide guidance and opportunities for career exploration. They have access to resources for students and parents to support a child’s growth and development.
  • Be involved with your child’s Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP). This plan is required for each eighth-grader and is updated annually through the senior year. It includes an interest inventory, ideas for career pathways and helps a student consider classes and certificates needed for career preparation.

To learn more, consider investigating online resources for work-based learning opportunities and consider how to match your child’s interests and the educational requirements for their career interest.

Jen Sigrist Executive Director of Educational ServicesJen Sigrist is the Executive Director of Educational Services with Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA), based out of Marshalltown. She can be reached at Central Rivers AEA provides special education and school improvement services to 53 public and nearly 20 non-public school districts across 18 counties of Iowa. Learn more at