The My Future tool in Overgrad provides multiple opportunities for students to explore postsecondary institutions, majors, and careers, and because this tool includes so many resources, it can be challenging to determine where and how to start. Below you'll find one example of how you can use My Future with students in grades 9-12, closely aligned to our recommended use guidance. There are many, many ways to use these tools and features, so please feel free to add and adjust our recommendations here to meet your goals and students' needs.
Understanding myself, my goals, and careers
We all love to learn about ourselves, and the transition to high school can be tough for many students. Rather than starting immediately with tactical college research, consider guiding students through some self-exploration and goal setting. This can include strengths finders, personality tests, and guided reflection questions or journal prompts.
In Overgrad, use the Career Survey for students to investigate and learn about some of their strengths and interests as they correspond to careers. Students can use the Career Survey to start a career search and begin following careers.
Understanding postsecondary pathways and types of "fit"
With thousands of postsecondary programs, colleges, and universities, students must narrow their options to help them find pathways that will help them achieve their goals and meet their needs. There are a myriad of ways to help students compare programs, colleges, and universities, and we know there are lots of ways to define commons terms; we've included a recommendation below, but certainly adjust these to align with your own practices and common language used at your school. Framed as guiding questions, this structure helps students reflect on what they want in a college or program. We've also included corresponding filters that align to each of these components in the College Search tool.
We recommend introducing this concept in 10th grade, but focusing on details and using corresponding filters in 11th grade
- Academic Offerings (use the Majors & Programs filters)
- Consider career interests: what types of education are needed for entry level jobs? Does this school/program offer degrees needed to enter the field?
- Does this school/program offer the types of majors and subjects I'm interested in studying?
- What kinds of courses would I take? Would I take a wide variety of courses (liberal arts) or take classes only directly aligned to my field?
- Admissibility (use the Academics, Admissions Considerations, and Ways to Apply filters)
- What is required as part of the application process?
- If required or recommended, what are the average GPA and/or test scores to be admitted? How do these compare to my own?
- Size (use the Campus Size filter)
- How many students attend?
- How does this size impact class sizes, resources available (internships, advisors, et cetera)?
- Campus Experiences
- Setting and Location (use the Setting and Location filters)
- Where is the campus located?
- Is it part of a city, town/suburb, or rural?
- How does the location impact what's available for me to do outside of school?
- How does location impact travel to/from home?
- Housing and Dining
- Is housing available for students?
- Are students required to live on campus?
- Does this school have athletics? If so, what sports and in which division?
- Are students able to attend games? Are there traditions or experiences associated with specific sports teams?
- Greek Life
- Are there fraternities or sororities on campus?
- Clubs and Organizations
- What other opportunities exist for me to connect with other students? Do these align to my interests?
- Resources and Supports
- Is tutoring available? Free?
- What mental health resources exist for students? Are these resources and services free, or at a reduced cost for students?
- Are there programs specifically for first generation and/or minority students?
- Setting and Location (use the Setting and Location filters)
- Type (use the School Type filter)
- Is this program or school public or private? Is this a certificate program, or a two or four year college/university? For profit or non-profit?
- Campus Diversity (use HBCUs & Women's Colleges filter)
- What is the demographic makeup for the students that attend this school or program? Is this a predominately white institution (PWI) or is there racial diversity on campus?
- Is this a Historically Black College/University (HBCU)?
- Is this a college specifically for women?
- Sticker Price and Average Net Cost (use the Net Price filter)
- How much is the cost of attendance?
- What costs are factored into the cost of attendance?
- What scholarships, grants, and loans are available? What is the average Net Price?
- Return on Investment (use the Graduation Rate filter)
- Are students that enroll in this program/school successful?
- What is the graduation rate for the school overall? Does the school also report graduation rates based on student ethnicity? If yes, what is the graduation rate for student who share my ethnicity?
Some of these terms can be hard to conceptualize, especially as teenager. Consider asking staff members, community partners, or alumni to share components of their postsecondary experience with students to help them understand some of the differences between "big" and "small" schools, liberal arts universities compared to a certificate program or research institution, or HBCUs as compared to PWIs. After reviewing these concepts, guide students through the College Search options, using filters to help them find schools of interest and start following colleges.
You might also choose to provide an overview of these topics, then delve deeper into them during 11th grade.
Connect careers, majors and areas of study, and postsecondary pathways
Students are now following colleges and careers. Guide students through refining their My Colleges list now that they have a clearer sense of potential intended majors or career fields and other components of fit important to them.
Consider delving more deeply into the Academic Fit components listed above. Now is also the time to consider Admissions Chances. As students finalize their college lists, they can use the Admissions Chances filter to help refine their lists.
Schools and districts might set goals for college lists. One example of this type of goal could include:
- 2-3 Likely or Open Enrollment colleges/programs
- 2-3 Match colleges/programs
- 2-3 Reach or Far Reach colleges/programs
Juniors should be encouraged to share their My Colleges list with family, mentors, and/or the teacher who will write their letters of recommendation. This can be a helpful conversation starting point and/or support students' goal setting for the year.
Making my future goals a reality
This year, students will spend most of their time in Overgrad in the My Applications section. They should start by adding applications from their My Colleges list. Students can also use the Overgrad Search feature to look for Scholarships.