Best Bet Services provide youth, teachers and counselors, school districts, community colleges, and community-based organizations with the tools to make stronger connections with career pathways and programs of study that align student interests and regional employment needs—what we call a Best Bet. Through our Best Bet Services, students, educators, and counselors are empowered to:
- Analyze labor market data
- Unpack the complex postsecondary program entry and enrollment process
- Expand their employer network
- Hone job search skills.
What is a Best Bet?
A Best Bet is a postsecondary program that:
- Is grounded in student career interest
- Has evidence of high job placement with career advancement potential
- Has strong retention and completion rates
- Is compressed/accelerated, leading to a credential that might be stackable or is defined by industry standards.
Best Bet Services include:
Fewer than half of all students who enter community college earn a degree or certificate within six years. The students who do graduate too often leave in debt and struggle to find jobs. Academic counselors, who tend to be fairly knowledgeable about options for college general studies programs, are usually less informed about a larger range of career pathways available, including those that are particularly valuable to underprepared and out-of-work youth and adults.
The challenge is to help students make a wise choice—one that connects to both their career aspirations and the job opportunities that will be available when they complete their credentials.
Research shows that the sooner community college students choose an academic field or vocational program of study, the more likely they are to graduate.
Best Bet Services help youth, teachers and counselors, school districts, community colleges, and community-based organizations to make stronger connections with career pathways and programs of study that align student interests and regional employment needs. Specifically, our services and tools help youth and adults use labor market information to identify Best Bets (postsecondary programs associated with high-demand career pathways) for individual students.
Counseling to Careers training: Participants conduct research and work with partners to create their own context-specific Best Bet Profiles of in-demand careers in their regions that include available postsecondary pathways that lead to those careers. The Profiles are designed for counselors and students to use immediately.
Best Bet Profile development: JFF undertakes a needs-based regional analysis of the local labor market, postsecondary programming, and employer needs, and develops complete profiles for a client. We also provide trainings to staff on how to use the profiles with students and/or how to create additional regional profiles.
MyBestBets mobile and web application: MyBestBets is an online/mobile solution to help students with their counselors, to:
- Identify their interests, talents, and aspirations
- Organize and track their progress towards their postsecondary goals
- Develop skills and social capital through real-world experiences
- Create their own Best Bet Profile
Jobs for the Future has provided Counseling to Careers training to 26 communities in 15 states, providing students with clearer pathways into college and careers:
- California: Fresno, Los Angeles
- Colorado: Denver
- Connecticut: Hartford
- Georgia: Atlanta
- Louisiana: Bogalusa
- Maryland: Baltimore
- Massachusetts: Boston
- Michigan: Benton Harbor, Escanaba, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Warren
- New York: New York City
- North Carolina: Charlotte, Durham, Fayette, Pamlico
- Ohio: Columbus, Dayton
- Oregon: Portland
- Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
- Rhode Island: Providence
- Texas: Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Odessa, San Antonio, Tyler
Counseling to Careers trainees report that the services:
- Strengthen relationships between community colleges, workforce training providers, and other community partners
- Improve communication within community colleges between career advisors, credit and noncredit department leaders, and others who are key in helping students matriculate
- Enhance college and career advising with the application of labor market information