As you know, raising teenagers is about more than helping them graduate from high school. It’s about giving them opportunities to develop a positive vision for their future and a plan for reaching their goals.

PWA helps families with this process. Our mission is to provide students with career-learning experiences to help them make informed choices after high school and college. We want to support an educated, highly skilled workforce by helping students make the connection between their educational choices today and their career options (and lifetime earning potential) tomorrow.

With that in mind, here are a few answers to three common questions we hear from parents.

What are Career Related Learning Experiences?

The state of Oregon describes CRLEs as “structured educational experiences that connect learning to the world beyond the classroom. They are planned in the student’s education plan in relation to his/her career interests and post-high school goals. Experiences provide opportunities in which students apply academic, career-related, and technical knowledge and skills and may also help students to clarify career goals. … Partnerships with local employers and community organizations provide a variety of opportunities, building upon the community’s strengths and resources.”

These CRLEs are now part of Oregon’s diploma requirements.

Will my child be “tracked” into a particular career path if he/she takes CTE classes or career pathways in high school?

No! Our experience suggests that hands-on learning tends to broaden students’ horizons, not limit them. Oregon students who take CTE classes have far higher graduation rates than those who don’t. They also are more likely to continue their education after high school, state and national data show.

Career-related classes allow students to make the connection between the classroom and real life, and they give students the chance to develop essential workplace skills, such as teamwork and problem-solving. The value lies in learning how to learn, not in choosing a career at age 16 or 18. (Most young people will change careers a half-dozen times before retirement, based on current workforce trends.)

My teenager doesn’t have a career plan. How can I help?

Work-related experiences of all kinds can help a teenager figure out what they enjoy doing (and, just as important, what they don’t). Volunteer experiences and part-time jobs help. So do career days, mentorships, internships, job shadows, the annual NW Youth Careers Expo, forays into entrepreneurism, even that half-hour informational meeting with your sister’s friend’s coworker.

Check out our Student Resources and Student Stories pages for more ideas. You can also browse Our Work or contact us. Thank you for your advocacy and interest.