How the Pathways Program Empowers Students to Succeed
Whether creating their first LinkedIn page, learning how to manage a checking account, or lining up an internship in an area of possible career interest, students in Quest Forward Academy’s Pathways Program are preparing for their futures. Pathways is a unique program that supports all Quest Forward Academy students at every step of their journey through high school — and up to six years into their post-secondary lives in the Pathways Network. Quest Forward Academy students generally pursue one of four paths after high school: college, trade school, the military, or direct-to-career for a job with training opportunities. Whatever their path, Quest Forward Academy wants to ensure that students are well equipped for what comes their way by helping them develop the mindset, habits, skills, and knowledge to flourish in their chosen path.
The Pathways Program focuses on five pillars of learning that are designed to provide a solid foundation for future success:
- Future Preparation and Planning
- Self- and Career Exploration
- Financial Literacy
- Wellness and Personal Growth
4 Years During High School
Future Preparation and Planning
Future preparation and planning involves activities that help students identify, understand, plan, and prepare for possible paths. This pillar includes making an informed choice of a certain path, understanding how best to prepare for this path, and selecting courses and learning experiences commensurate with this path. We help students identify and enroll in college-learning experiences while still in high school, whether that be courses in areas of academic or career interest.
Self- and Career Exploration
The self- and career exploration pillar incorporates activities that help students investigate interests, work values, strengths, and capabilities as part of their path selection. Equally important, it helps students understand how to leverage their unique attributes to obtain personal and professional goals. Students take strengths and personality assessments, create a dream profile to outline and plan for their future, and explore different careers and industries. They attend career fairs and City as Campus events the school offers. Students also explore their potential career interests through required service and internship learning. Students at Quest Forward Academy have interned in a range of professions, from small businesses to airfields, as electricians and veterinary assistants.
The professionalism pillar comprises activities that help students identify and develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the professional world. This thread includes resume writing, professional social media presence and communication, interviewing and public-speaking skills, and professional dress. It focuses on the big picture as well as the small things that many young people have little opportunity to practice, like how to address an envelope or how to give a solid handshake.
The financial literacy thread helps students become knowledgeable about financial planning and management. They complete cost-benefit analyses of possible career paths (including the calculation of the “true” cost of college), review the earning potential of various paths, complete financial aid planning, and learn the “adult” skills of managing the financial part of one’s personal and professional life. Students learn how to open and manage a checking account, how savings accounts and interest work, and develop a healthy respect for the power of savings and the burden of debt.
Wellness and Personal Growth
Finally, the wellness and personal growth thread involves activities that help students practice the habits, mindset, and personal skills necessary to flourish as they pursue their individual paths. These activities focus on skills such as personal and academic goal setting and time management, as well as the socio-emotional, relational, and leadership skills they need to thrive, both in high school and beyond.
6 Years Beyond High School
The Pathways Network
Students are supported in the Pathways Program by a cohort of counselors who are highly experienced in college and career as well as social-emotional wellness support. After students graduate Quest Forward Academy, they are invited to become members of the Pathways Network, offering continued support and resources as they launch into their adult paths. For example, when COVID hit and Quest Forward Academy graduates in college were wondering how to navigate this unsettling disruption to their learning, Pathways coaches were there to advise them and help them investigate options. As the Pathways Network grows, we are incorporating alumni community building, networking opportunities, professional development events, and more.
Quest Forward Academy is dedicated to putting students in the driver’s seat of their own learning. The Pathways Program is a cornerstone of that commitment. Leaving high school with professional skills and real career experience, self-knowledge and awareness, and basic financial literacy, as well as the continued support for up to six years after graduation, will provide Quest Forward Academy students a tremendous advantage in whatever path they choose.
Karen Kenkel, PhD, is the founding Director of Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa. With over 30 years of experience in education administration and teaching in public and private schools, she wore many hats at Quest Forward Academy to ensure that students and mentors experience joyful learning in a nurturing environment.