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Postsecondary Pathways

Why Pro-Pathways?

Professional pathways exploration can happen with your students at any stage of the iMentor program. All of our students are required to apply to at least one college, but we encourage you to talk to your students about  pro-pathways if they don't seem interested in college.

There may be a variety of reasons why your students do not want to go to college after high school. Some might have ambitions that are best pursued in a certificate or technical program, others might want to go to the military or participate in a gap year program. And some might not be meeting graduation requirements, or have a lower GPA, and will want to explore non-academic options. Others will opt to find employment.

We want to make sure our pairs are exposed early to pro-pathways, are given recommendations on a range of options to apply to, and feel equally supported and represented throughout the iMentor curriculum. There may be a variety of reasons your students may not be considering traditional higher education institutions. Whether your student is interested in the military, college isn't applicable to their career pathway, or they are unsure of what they want to do, the information below details some resources you can use to help your pairs plan for the future.

If students are unsure of what they want to do post-high school, encourage them and their mentor to start with the  Exploring Postsecondary Pathways to help guide them with understanding the steps needed for military, gap year, certificate programs, and employment.

Certificate Programs

A Certificate Program is a series of courses providing in-depth study, so you can get the most up-to-date skills and information you need in a specific field. If your students are interested in a certificate program, visit their local community college website. Many colleges offer certificate programs as a part of their Continuing Education courses.

Example: Bronx Community College Automotive Technology Certificate (New York)

Example: Evergreen Valley College Medical Assistant Certificate (Bay Area)

Certification Programs

Certification programs are affiliated with professional associations, trade organizations, or private vendors interested in raising industry standards. Students are usually evaluated against predetermined standards for knowledge, skills, or competencies. 

The most common certification programs are usually in the IT field. Some of these programs can also be found on a college website or are offered as a part of a training program through a nonprofit. 

Example: Year Up

Example: NPower Tech Fundamentals Certification

Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeships combine hands-on work with classroom learning for on-the-job-training to train the apprentice. Apprenticeships are considered full-time employment. As the apprentice is learning, they are also applying the lessons through working. 

Most of these programs are offered through trade unions such as plumbing, carpentry, and electrician.

Example: Job Corp Training Program

Gap Year Programs 

Gap Year Programs enable students to engage in experiences that develop skills and broaden their mindsets, before going to college. A “gap year” is a period between completing high school and beginning college. During this time, students take a break from traditional school to work in a field of interest, volunteer locally or abroad, participate in artistic training programs, etc.

Example: City Year


If your students want to join the military after high school, help them research enlistment options, come up with questions to ask a recruiter, and identify which branch they are interested in.

Postsecondary Pathways Directory

Once students have a sense of the type of pathway they are interested in, encourage them and their mentor to explore iMentor's directory of high-quality non-college options. 

Baltimore Postsecondary Pathways Directory

Bay Area Postsecondary Pathways Directory

Chicago Postsecondary Pathways Directory

New York City Postsecondary Pathways Directory

National Postsecondary Pathways Directory

Just like researching colleges, students need to understand how to evaluate postsecondary options. Use the Comparing Postsecondary Options with pairs to help them understand the differences between programs.