Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

7th Grade Campus Visit: What Jobs Need What Education?

Lisa Blaschko, Lacy Pennington, Jennifery Neeley, Christiana Horn


This 7th Grade Campus Visit professional development focuses on providing an opportunity for students to tour a college campus and learn about different facets of college life. Students will participate in a learning activity to familiarize themselves with college degrees and other postsecondary education (PSE) options for various careers. The visit will help students and administrators set expectations for students to meet Oklahoma's Academic Standards of being college, career, and citizenship ready. This activity also includes optional modifications for distance learning.

Essential Questions

  • What types of education are needed for different types of careers?

Learning Goals

  • Increase cohort academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education.

  • Increase high school graduation and postsecondary participation.

  • Increase student educational expectations and increase student and family knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation, and financing.

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • Card Sort Activity Career Cards (attached; 1 set per group or table)

  • Card Sort Activity Graphic Organizer handout (attached; 1 group or table)

  • Distance Learning Career Test (attached; 1 per student; optional)

  • Distance Learning Collect and Career Card Sort (attached; 1 per student; optional)

  • Distance Learning Modification (attached; 1 per student; optional)

  • I Used to Think... But Now I Know handout (attached; 1 half-sheet per student)


Use the attached Presentation Slides to guide with the activities. Begin with slide 2 to introduce this activity to students. Welcome students and let them know that this session presents an exciting opportunity to visit a college campus and gain valuable insights about the various degrees and career goals associated with college, as well as other postsecondary education (PSE) options.

Transition to slide 3, titled "Housekeeping: Norms," and discuss the list of expectations for the visit with students (if conducting an in-person campus visit):

  • Keep cell phones on silent.

  • Behave like a guest—represent your school well.

  • Leave campus as clean as it was when you arrived.

  • Stay engaged in all activities.

  • Ask related questions.

  • Follow all instructions.

  • Stay with your group.

Begin your in-person or virtual campus visit now. (For virtual campus visits, see the optional suggestions and resources listed below.) You may choose to send your full group of students to attend the campus visit at the same time, or you may prefer to sort your students into two groups. If you choose this option, send your first group of students to attend the campus visit while you conduct this activity with the remaining non-visiting students. Then, after the first group returns, send your second group of students to attend the campus while presenting to students who have just returned from the first campus visit. This may take place over the course of a day or more.

Move to slide 4 and briefly discuss the lesson objectives with students. These objectives represent concrete goals for students to keep in mind over the course of the day's instruction. After this activity, students should be familiarized with three types of PSE options (career tech, 2-year degree, and 4-year degree), the different types of degrees or certifications those options offer, and some of the job opportunities for which those degrees qualify them. After completing their campus visit, students should also understand the admission requirements for the type of postsecondary institution they are visiting and which degrees or certifications it offers. Before moving on, remember to define postsecondary education (PSE) with students.

Go to slide 5. To access students' prior knowledge, ask students whether they have ever been to a college campus before, or about their other experiences with college campuses. Ask students to raise their hands if they have been to the campus before. If they have, ask them why. For example, students may have attended a campus football game, visited an older sibling who attends, etc.Solicit a few responses from the group before moving on to the Explore.


Move to slide 6 and introduce students to the Always, Sometimes, or Never True strategy. Sort the class into groups of 2-3. Move to slide 7 and ask each group to read the statement and decide whether it is always, sometimes, or never true. Ask each group to be prepared to share their answer and reasoning, and invite students to choose a spokesperson for their group. Solicit responses from a few groups before moving on to the next statement. Repeat for each statement, moving through slides 8–13.

After each group has responded and all statements have been discussed, invite students to raise their hands if they like money. Ask a few students with raised hands to share out what they want to buy with their money. Transition to slide 14, titled "Let's talk about money." Note to students that this $1 million figure is an average, but also a researched fact. Ask students to consider how this information affects their thoughts about postsecondary education and its importance to earnings. Does this statement support or confirm any of the statements in the previous activity? What could they do with an additional $1 million dollars in their lifetime?

Go to slide 15. Introduce the Essential Question: "What types of education are needed for different types of careers?" Ask students to keep this question in mind throughout the next activity.


Go to slide 16. Introduce students to the Card Sort strategy. Sort students into groups of 2–5. Pass out the first page only of the Card Sort Activity Graphic Organizer Handout and each set of the Card Sort Activity Career Cards (one per group or one per table). Invite students to take each Career Card and match it to an appropriate category on the Card Sort Activity Graphic Organizer (career tech, 2-year degree, or 4-year degree). Have students continue with this process until they've sorted all of the cards into a category. If students are uncertain, ask them to simply do their best—the answers will be revealed when everyone is finished. If you choose to give students a hint, consider revealing that there are four cards in each category. Or, you may consider selecting one of the careers to discuss briefly and let students know which category it belongs in.

Ask students if they know the difference between 2-year colleges, 4-year universities, and career techs. Give the class a few minutes to share answers and guide their responses. You may also consider asking for students to share examples of 2-year colleges, 4-year universities, and career techs if they know of any. Transition to slide 17 to reveal the definitions for each category. Pass out the second page of the Card Sort Graphic Organizer, which include the bulleted definitions. Give students an opportunity to re-sort their cards based on the appropriate definitions. Ask the class to share any changes they made after discovering more about each category.

Now, transition to slide 18 to reveal the Card Sort answers for occupations and salary averages in the "Career Tech" category. Repeat this process with slide 19 (2-Year Degree) and slide 20 (4-Year Degree). After revealing these answers, ask students whether they noticed a pattern about these careers and salaries, or if anything about the categories stood out to them.


Transition to slide 21, titled "Let's Talk About Money." Read the statement on the slide to students and note that it represents data accumulated by researchers using government statistics.

Follow up the statement with the bar graph on slide 22, showing data that illustrates differing amounts of average income based on education level. Ask students what they notice about the graph—does it support the data on the previous slides in terms of careers and their corresponding degree requirements? Did the degrees that required more education also tend to pay more? Ask students to think about real-world examples within their communities that might support the information in the statement and the graph, and to keep an eye out for real-world examples like these in the future.


Transition to slide 23 and introduce students to the I Used to Think ... But Now I Know strategy. Pass out a copy of the attached I Used to Think... But Now I Know half-sheet to each student. Ask students to reflect on their ideas about postsecondary education before the lesson versus what they've learned today. Have their thoughts, opinions, or knowledge changed? Invite students to list at least one idea they had before the event in the "I Used to Think..." column and then something new they've learned as a result of the campus visit in the "Now I Know..." column.

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 graduation increases the 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).