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Career & College Counseling


Life beyond high school is different from what it used to be. Most jobs in Colorado, now and in the future, require training or education beyond high school. There are fewer jobs for high school graduates now than at any other time in Colorado’s history. Students who graduate and work in Colorado will need in-demand skills that meet business, industry and higher education standards.

ICAP is a multi-year process that intentionally guides students as they explore career, academic, and post-secondary opportunities. With the support of adults, students develop the awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and skills to create their own meaningful and Powerful pathways to be career and college ready.

ICAP helps students imagine a future career and helps them design the way to get there. Students have a chance to look inside - to determine their interests and passions, and outside - to explore and experience career opportunities. With greater knowledge, they can imagine and then craft their individual career pathway to success.

Three out of four jobs in Colorado will require education or training beyond high school. When students take the initiative to complete a meaningful ICAP, they find out which pathways fit their learning styles and their unique talents, which careers ignite their imagination, and what kind of training and academic experiences will prepare them for in demand jobs when they graduate high school.

When students complete a meaningful ICAP process, they:

  • Are more motivated to attend school and stay engaged
  • Become confident learners who can actively set goals
  • Have access to quality career guidance activities
  • Connect the relevance of education to their future aspirations
  • Understand and demonstrate self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management
  • Make secondary and postsecondary course plans to pursue their career and life goals
  • Are connected to their college and career goals
  • Select their pathway more strategically to align with self-defined career, college, and life goals
  • Establish better communication and relational connections between their school and home

ICAP is in legislation (2009). Following Colorado’s Achievement Plan for Kids (CAP4K) in 2008, schools and districts were mandated to develop an ICAP process in their schools for students in grades 9-12.

ICAP gives students ownership of a process that helps them explore their unique talents and aspirations, participate in career and postsecondary options, and create pathways to financial success after high school.

In 2014, the Colorado Department of Education refreshed the ICAP process. ICAP practitioners asked CDE to provide more guidance in implementing ICAP. Beginning in 2014, more than 400 teachers, School Counselors, CTE and Special education educators, and school leaders gathered for an ICAP Summit to set in motion a refreshed process for developing and enhancing a meaningful ICAP process that students own.

The ICAP must include (but should not be limited to):

  • Career and college interest surveys
  • Written post-secondary and workforce goals, intermediate benchmarks, and data reflecting progress toward those goals
  • Scores on assessments
  • Experiences in service learning and/or work environments
  • Activities that establish connections between school-based instruction and the world of work
  • An intentional sequence of courses that reflect progress toward the postsecondary goal
  • Academic progress
  • College application(s), a resume, or alternative work-based applications
  • An understanding of the financial impact of life after high school, including an education.

Students in the Five Star District start the ICAP process in 6th grade, and must update the ICAP every year. With the guidance of adults, including their parents, students build their ICAP using resources at school and community, as well as Naviance.