Here’s what Illinois says students should know, do to prepare for college, careers

State leaders want to see students not only thinking about life after high school but also taking steps to prepare themselves — starting in middle school.

That’s why Illinois has outlined what students should know and what actions they should take from eighth-grade through their senior year.

The milestones are known as Postsecondary and Career Expectations. Four state boards adopted them in June, according to an Illinois State Board of Education news release.

Those boards include ISBE, as well as the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

The Postsecondary and Career Expectations were created in response to the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act, which unanimously passed the Illinois House and Senate in May 2016 and was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in July 2016.

But the legislation does not require school districts to adopt them. The news release states that the expectations are designed to be used by state agencies, communities and individual families to help support students.

The Postsecondary and Career Expectations revolve around three areas: financial aid, education beyond high school and careers. Each year in school includes several milestones.

In eighth-grade, for example, students are expected to start thinking about possible careers that would interest them through things like surveys.

They should know the general cost range of continuing their education after high school by the end of their freshman year, according to the expectations. The following year, the state expects them to visit at least one workplace within their interests and know the midpoint salary for the potential occupations they’ll pursue.

During their junior year, students are expected to create a resume and visit at least three postsecondary institutions such as universities or trade schools. Illinois also encourages participation in advanced placement courses through which students can earn college credit while they’re in high school.

The committee that developed the expectations included school counselors, district administrators, university and community college representatives, teachers, employers, state agency workers and nonprofit organization members, according to the news release.

Read more about the expectations at

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes