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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

I was able to attend the YouthBuild USA 2015 National Directors Association Meeting in Arlington, Virginia. The meeting brought together directors from over 100 YouthBuild programs across the country. Here are my top three takeaways from the conference:
Last week was designated as National School Choice Week and is a nonpolitical and nonpartisan celebration of effective education options for children. The week shines a positive spotlight on all types of education options for children " from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, online academies, private schools, and homeschooling.
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The U.S achieved an 80% high school graduation rate in 2012, a triumphant milestone for education. But the remaining 20% still represent a population of young people who not only exclude themselves from a future of opportunity, but inadvertently produce negative consequences for higher education, local job markets, communities, and the overall economy.
Partnering with a high school completion program and graduating high school non-completers provides career colleges with strong students for their career college programs. These students become eligible to matriculate to your career college and have already undergone a motivational, empowering learning experience and arrive ready to learn and succeed.
Each day 7000 students are faced with the tough decision of leaving high school. Despite the common misconceptions about this group of learners, many don't have a choice, and are in need of help navigating the hazards of poverty, violence, neglect, abuse, health issues, death or incarceration of family. However, when given an opportunity to return to school, these students are filled with motivation and often refute the stereotypes high school dropouts are labeled by.
Earlier this year we announced Penn Foster's 125th anniversary, and today we are excited to announce the launch of our multi-media campaign where students, alumni and partners can share their stories and contribute their experiences and be showcased as part of the larger Penn Foster story. Serving as a time capsule of sorts, this micro-site will live and grow throughout our 125th year, and will highlight Penn Foster facts and figures, highlight student and partner success stories, and spotlights on Penn Foster employees with over 25 years with the school.
We recently sat down and spoke with Shatea Hill. Shatea shared a story similar to ones we have heard before. A smart student heads down the wrong path, and struggles to find an onramp back to higher education. Career schools unfortunately have to turn these students away who lack proof of high school graduation, but Dorsey Schools now offers a High School Completion program through Penn Foster, which allows students like Shatea to earn a high school diploma, find that onramp, and go on to higher education. Here's her story: 
It is important to understand these students' backgrounds, and fears towards education and potential mental roadblocks holding them back from taking the first step towards earning their high school diploma. They might be hesitant to return to school, and may have struggled in a traditional learning environment, or have had failed attempts at the GED program. Here are three rebuttals educators or enrollment teams can use when talking with potential students who question their ability to return to and complete high school:
The new year is a time for fresh starts, and for career schools, 2015 is the year for successful student outcomes. The focus on student outcomes serves as a solution for overcoming two major 2014 challenges: declining enrollment and government regulations. Enrollment at public two-year institutions has declined by 2.7% between spring 2013 and spring 2014, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.1 And recent rulings by the Department of Education have also negatively affected academic institutions, from funding and tuition assistance to languishing enrollment rates.
Along with years of dedication, studying and preparation, certain careers require minimum passing scores on tests necessary to be successful in that profession.  These exams are often labeled "high stakes tests" due to their "all or nothing nature": if you don't pass the test, you can't get the job you had dreamed of.  Lawyers have to pass the bar exam. Accountants have to take the Series 7. There are high stakes tests to become a career diplomat at the State Department. Special forces branches within the military have tests. Elite colleges and universities have minimum scores for both undergraduate and graduate admissions based upon the SAT and GMAT exams.  None of these exams are easy, but that is the point.  Professionals within the industry know what specific domain knowledge it will take in order to be successful in that field. If you can't pass the test, it might not be the best match for your career. 

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