Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Campus Visit: Career Collections

Lacy Pennington, Christiana Horn, Ayanna Wheeler, Teresa Lansford | Published: August 4th, 2021 by K20 Center


This campus visit lesson focuses on identifying and mitigating obstacles to postsecondary education. Student participants will have an opportunity to discuss why they should want to go to college and what could potentially prevent them from going. They will then explore some of the critical careers in Oklahoma and go on a campus scavenger hunt. This activity also includes optional modifications for distance learning. This activity is best suited for 7th grade, 8th grade, and 9th grade students.

Essential Questions

  • What are the obstacles to postsecondary education and how can they be overcome?

Learning Goals

  • Students will be able to recognize challenges that will prevent them from pursuing postsecondary education (PSE).

  • Students will be able to identify solutions that will help them overcome obstacles to pursuing PSE.

  • Students will be able to list required PSE, skills, and majors associated with different careers.

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • Career Card Sort Mat (attached; one per group)

  • Career Cards (attached; one set per group)

  • Modification for Distance Learning (attached; optional)

  • OK Promise Application (English) (attached; optional)

  • Two colors of paper or sticky notes for each table (one per color per student)

  • Bucket or other receptacle (one per group)


Use the attached Presentation Slides to guide the presentation. Begin by welcoming students and letting them know that today presents an exciting opportunity to visit a college campus. This gives them the chance to gain valuable insights about various degrees and career goals and the type and level of postsecondary education required for these degrees and careers. Transition to slide 3, titled "Housekeeping: Norms" and go through the list of expectations for today's visit.

Transition to slide 4, and go over the student-friendly objectives for the day's visit.

Go to slide 5. For this opening activity, introduce your students to the modified Commit and Toss instructional strategy, here called "Commit and Trash." Have each student use a colored sheet of paper (pink by default) to write down a response to the question, "What keeps people from going to college?" After students have written their answers, transition to slide 6. Invite students to crumple up their papers and toss them into the bucket in the center of the table. Have each group trade buckets with another group. Then, have each student pull one paper out of the bucket and share it with their group.

Transition to slide 7, and have students select one of the responses from their groups to share with the whole class. Then, ask students to describe some resources or solutions that might help someone overcome the challenges given. After allowing a bit of time for brainstorming at their tables or with the whole class, ask for volunteers to share out some of their resources noted.

Go to slide 8. On another sheet of colored paper (any color is fine, but a different color from the first one is recommended), have students respond to the question, "Why do you think people should go to college?" Go to slide 9. Repeat the procedure of having students write responses on a sheet of colored paper, put their responses in the bucket, trade buckets with another table, and share out a few responses with the group. Have students select one of the responses from their groups to share with the whole class.


Transition to slide 10, "Exploring Career Options." Then, move to slide 11. Take a moment to highlight the various components of the Career Cards that students have on their tables.

Transition to slide 12. Introduce students to the Card Sort strategy. This instructional strategy allows students to organize their prior knowledge and engage in argumentative communication by debating answers with the group. Invite students to use this strategy to sort their Career Card set onto the Card Sort Mat, matching the proper career to each section (one card per section). There are six cards and five slots on the mat, so students can put two cards in one space.

Once groups have finished discussing and sorting, move to slide 13 to discuss possible answers.


After students have had their Card Sort Mat checked, transition to slide 14, and ask students what careers they have questions about.

Are there any careers that were new to them? Do they wonder what someone in a particular job actually does? Were they surprised by anything they learned?Share with the students that this list of careers is based on growth rate and stats from critical careers in Oklahoma, so each should be a high need job in the state.

Encourage students to begin exploring on their own some of the careers that they did not get to read about. A possible follow-up lesson could also be given that allows students time to explore those other careers in a structured format and with help.


Transition to slide 15 to present the next topic: "How do you pay for a career tech or college?"

Ask students if they are aware of the difference in tuition costs for in-state and out-of-state schools. Emphasize that they need to plan how to pay for postsecondary education. Go to slide 16, and introduce students to Oklahoma's Promise, a scholarship opportunity for Oklahoma students whose families meet the requirements.

Move to slide 17, and go over the requirements to be accepted to Oklahoma's Promise. Then, move to slide 18, and go over the details for how to apply.


Go to slide 19. Ask students to reflect on their ideas about barriers to postsecondary education before the lesson and what they've learned today. Have their thoughts, opinions, or knowledge changed?

Research Rationale

College can be a life-altering experience for students, and not only academically. Here are just a few of the ways in which college can change students' lives for the better: Earning a bachelor's degree will allow students to earn, on average, $1 million more than high school graduates over the course of their careers (Abel & Deitz, 2014). College offers students an opportunity to build relationships with mentors and peers that will benefit them throughout their careers (Campbell, Smith, Dugan, & Komives, 2012). College graduates tend to have more job satisfaction, jobs that offer a greater sense of accomplishment, more independence and opportunities for creativity, and more social interactions in their jobs than noncollege graduates (Oreopoulos & Petronijevic, 2013). College graduates increase their chances of employment. Over the last 20 years, the unemployment rate for college graduates has been approximately half that of high school graduates (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). College helps students develop skills that prepare them for careers in the tech-driven economy, including nonroutine, abstract skills that aid in problem-solving, multitasking, and creativity (Oreopoulos & Petronijevic, 2013).