Male youth looks through binoculars


1. What do youth and young adults need to be successful in transitioning from high school to adult life?

Informed by a combination of research and practical knowledge, the Guideposts for Success indicate that all transition-age youth need:

  1. school-related preparatory experiences that enable optimal academic performance;
  2. career preparation and work-based learning experiences that shape career aspirations, inform career and college planning, and develop career readiness skills;
  3. youth development and leadership opportunities that prepare youth to meet the demands of adolescence and adulthood;
  4. connections to and assistance navigating services and supports (referred to as Connecting Activities) relevant to their individual needs and goals; and
  5. support from families and other caring adults.

Within each of these five Guidepost domains are specific activities, experiences, and/or supports that all youth need access to in order to develop transition skills for success in postsecondary training and education, employment, and independent living. Each domain also outlines additional considerations for supporting youth with disabilities.

The Guideposts are based on the following assumptions:

  1. High expectations for all youth, including youth with disabilities;
  2. Equality of opportunity for everyone, including nondiscrimination, individualization, inclusion, and integration;
  3. Full participation through self-determination, informed choice, and participation in decision making;
  4. Independent living, including skills development and long-term supports and services;
  5. Competitive employment and economic self sufficiency, which may include supports; and,
  6. Individualized, person-driven, and culturally and linguistically appropriate transition planning.

Learn more about each domain of the Guideposts: School-Based Preparatory Experiences; Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences; Youth Development and Leadership; Connecting Activities; and, Family Involvement and Supports.

2. What competencies do youth service professionals need to effectively serve youth and young adults as they transition from school to adult life and the world of work?
3. What are the characteristics of a high quality individualized learning plan?

A high quality individualized learning plan is both a document and a process. The document/portfolio consists of an individual’s (a) course taking and postsecondary plans aligned to career goals; and (b) documentation of the range of college and career readiness skills he/she has developed including out-of-school learning experiences. As a process, ILPs provide individuals with personalized career development opportunities focused on developing their self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management skills that enables them to become aware of the relevance of academic preparation, work-based and other learning opportunities and the importance of completing a two- or four-year postsecondary credential, program or degree.

This definition is based on NCWD/Youth’s research ( indicating that engaging in ILPs provides access to quality career guidance activities and connects both college and career readiness goals by helping all students create secondary and postsecondary course plans to pursue their career and life goals. The evidence indicated that students who become more competent in self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management are more motivated and confident learners, actively set goals, and record better academic outcomes (Solberg, Wills, Redmond & Skaff, 2014).