Frequently Asked Questions about Online Career Prep
General Career and College Prep FAQs
What is the career and college prep program?
Our career and college prep program, offered at select K12-powered online public and private schools, teaches students what they need for a bright future. In addition to core academic courses required for graduation, career-focused classes allow high school students to explore different career fields and gain skills that can help them succeed in college and the workplace. Whether they are already working in their chosen career field, intend to pursue higher education, or plan to start their careers immediately following graduation, students taking classes in our career and college prep program can combine their passions and interests with the skills they'll need to compete for jobs in high-demand fields.
Why should I enroll my student in a school with career and college prep?
Some students already know what they want to do after high school, and taking career prep courses can give them a head start. Others may not know what they want to do. Our career and college prep program allows them to explore different occupations and career fields to figure out their interests. Others may simply enjoy taking courses that they find relevant to their everyday lives. The program also helps students master professional skills such as teamwork, project management, and leadership, which are all needed to succeed in college or the workplace.
What are career fields and career pathways?
A career field is a broad term for an industry classification. Two popular career fields, for example, are Information Technology (IT) and Manufacturing. We divide our career fields into more specific career pathways as part of our curriculum. These pathways are specializations within a broader career field. For example, Pharmacy Technician is a pathway within the Health Sciences career field.
Is the career and college prep program different than from homeschool?
K12 as a whole provides options for home-based education, but they're not all the same as traditional homeschooling. Traditional homeschooling means parents choose the curriculum and are responsible for instructing their children. While K12 offers purchasing options for homeschooling curriculums, they also offer full-time education options like K12-powered tuition-free public schools with a set curriculum and state-certified teachers, just like traditional public schools.
Some of these schools offer the career and college prep program. K12 Private Academy also offers a tuition-based option for career-focused classes, including both a full-time and part-time option. The part-time option offers more flexibility for students who want to stay at their local school while adding career courses and other activities to their existing schedule.
How much does it cost to attend a career and college prep program?
Depending on your needs and location, the cost of attendance can vary. K12-powered online public schools offering the career and college prep program are available tuition-free in many states. K12 also powers a selection of private school options, each with its own fee structure.
K12 Private Academy offers a part-time, more flexible option where students can stay at their local school and add in career-focused courses and activities. There are also supplementary and independent homeschool classes available for direct purchase. Check schools in your area to find out where the career and college prep program is offered.
Can students stay enrolled at their local school and still participate in the career and college prep program?
Students can stay at their local school and add career-focused classes to their existing schedules through K12 Private Academy's part-time option. This tuition-based opportunity lets students take career electives, prepare for industry certification exams, and access support services such as internships, networking opportunities, and career clubs, all while completing their local curriculum. Please note there is a fee associated with this flexible career and college prep program option.
Can students change their selected career pathways?
Yes! We understand that as students explore different careers and options through our program, they sometimes choose to change their pathway to fit their evolving career goals. The career and college prep program helps them explore different occupations and find the career pathway that interests them the most.
Is career and college prep part of the required credits needed for high school graduation?
The career and college prep program is not required for graduation. Some courses may fulfill elective requirements and, therefore, count toward graduation requirements. Check with your school counselor for specific details.
Will students receive a high school diploma?
Yes, students graduating from a K12-powered school will receive a high school diploma.
Can students earn industry-recognized certifications or credentials?
Our career and college prep program prepares students to take one or more industry-recognized certification exams, depending on the selected career pathway and how many courses they successfully complete.†
An industry-recognized certification is a way your student can demonstrate to college admissions officers and employers that they have the skills and technical expertise to be successful in a particular field. Most certifications require students to take an exam to show they're knowledgeable in the content learned throughout their course of study. Exam requirements may include a hands-on component. Test preparation is a part of the career and college prep program, which supports students in their efforts to obtain the hands-on/practicum they'll need to be prepared for the certification exam.
Certifications or credentials are issued by various certifying bodies, including Adobe®, Microsoft®, NOCTI®, and ACTE®.†
How do students take certification exams?
Most certifications require students to take an exam that may include a hands-on component to show they're knowledgeable in the content learned throughout their course of study. The career and college prep program includes test preparation for pathway-specific certification exams.
Most career pathways consist of four to six specialized courses followed by some work-based experience. Typically, students need to be in a pathway for two years to complete these specialized courses in addition to core subjects. However, certain certifications, such as Adobe® Photoshop or Microsoft® Excel, can be obtained after completing a single course.†
Exam fees vary and may be paid for by the school. Check with your counselor for details.
Does my student need an internship to graduate?
Students do not need an internship to graduate. A hands-on component, however, may be required to complete certification requirements and prepare for certification exams.†
How often do classes meet?
Students have live, online, teacher-led sessions called Class Connects regularly each week. The number of Class Connects a student must attend depends on the course and the progress they’re making in the curriculum.
How do students contact their teachers?
Students can contact their teachers during Class Connects or at any time by email. Teachers may also offer additional ways to communicate. Students should check with their teachers for their preferred methods of communication.
What is a typical day like?
A typical school day will vary depending on the student’s grade, course load, and chosen career pathway. In general, students can expect a mix of individual coursework, teacher-led instruction, assessments, and project collaboration with other students. This learning environment prepares students for the modern workforce. Visit A Day in the Life to see how K12-powered students spend their days.
Do all the career pathways have the same number of credits? Is there a course list for each career pathway?
The number of courses will vary depending on the pathway. For details on a particular pathway course sequence, students should speak with their school counselor.*
What is a career and technical student organization (CTSO)?
A CTSO is a career club where students with similar career interests connect, collaborate, and even compete against other schools. Participation in these student-led organizations can help students build teamwork, communication and leadership skills, citizenship, and volunteerism.
What CTSOs does the career and college prep program offer?
Offerings vary by school but include one or more of the following clubs: DECA (an association of marketing students), FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America), HOSA (future health professionals), and SkillsUSA.*
What is career and technical education?
Career education prepares students for a career after school. K12's approach to career education expands on traditional vocational education curriculums by combing core academics with career-focused classes. Our career and college prep program includes in-demand fields such as business, information technology (IT), and health sciences.
What are professional skills, and why are they important?
Professional skills are also called transferable skills, interpersonal skills, soft skills, or social skills. These are skills employers look for when hiring. These include teamwork, collaboration, presentation and communication skills, problem solving, creative thinking, and leadership. They may also include nearly any ability that pertains to how someone approaches others or handles their professional life.
How can my student plan for their future career?
Preparing for a future career is a personal journey toward each student's unique destination. Our approach to career education allows students to get a jump-start by exploring interests as early as middle school. Through career-oriented courses, students can discover their interests and develop skills for a specific career pathway or specialization, helping them graduate ready to enter college, a career, or both.
When should my student start career planning?
Any time is a good time to start exploring passions and discovering paths to careers. Students can start career-specific electives as early as middle school.* At the high school level, students in our career and college prep program can choose a career pathway or keep discovering! Students can also dive deep into their chosen career field through job shadowing, live online sessions with industry professionals, and career-oriented camps in areas like coding and STEM.*
When should I start encouraging a career for my child?
Career encouragement can start at any time. Pay attention to your child's interests and natural skills to get an idea of career options they might want to explore. Providing them opportunities to explore those interests or career paths will help guide your student early in their educational journey. Our career and college prep program offers a wide range of career pathways your child can explore.
Why is career exploration important in middle school?
Exploring career pathways in middle school* can provide students with the ability to better map out their education journey and make the most of their time. Early career planning allows you and your student to learn more about their skills and interests to maximize and understand their education and career opportunities so they can graduate high school a few steps closer to their career goals. The career and college prep program is not available in all middle schools.
How can my student start a career after high school?
Students in our career and college prep program are prepared for their careers through real-world experience and industry insight. By focusing on career prep education in high school, your student can graduate one step closer to their first career and develop real-world skills for their life after high school.
How many high school students know what kind of work they want to do after graduation?
Many high school students have reported that they found some interest in or direction for their career path while in school. Sometimes those ideas may change. That's why it's important to identify interests, strengths, passions, and future goals to help students map out a career plan. The career and college prep program offers career exploration opportunities to help students discover and prepare for their future career before it begins.
*Opportunities vary by school; please visit your school page or check with your school counselor.
†Many Microsoft®️ Office certificates can be earned after completing one course. Other certificates require more classes to be better prepared, and students who participate in the program for at least two years will have further preparation for certification testing.