Lesson Introduction

Getting Started

Checklist with navigate the college application process, create personal career roadmaps, create a budget and explore money management, research professional certifications and credentials, update career portfolio, and research job and career fairs.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and experienced career and technical education (CTE) teacher-coordinators recommend building these six student activities into your WBL lesson plans.

Take a moment to review the checklist shown here. Each of these activities will be explained in more detail in this lesson.

The CCRS is another good resource for creating lesson plans. Use the Texas CCRS to stimulate additional ideas for incorporating college and career readiness into WBL activities.

Navigate the College Application Process

High school counselor meeting with student

Conduct activities to help students navigate the college selection and application process. Include activities such as

  • preparing for and taking college entrance exams;
  • researching and selecting colleges;
  • understanding and estimating the costs;
  • completing and submitting college applications;
  • completing financial aid forms (e.g., FAFSA); and
  • researching and applying for scholarships.

Career preparation instructors often collaborate with school counselors for ideas and resources. Practicum instructors may want to include similar activities, depending on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) specific to that course.

Links to sample activities and lesson plans are included at the end of this lesson.

Research Professional Certifications and Credentials


Include researching professional licensure and certification requirements for a chosen career or current job as part of each student’s career research activities.

Click each topic for additional information.

Quick Check #1

Create Personal Career Road Maps

Research shows that having meaningful goals is a key motivator to personal and professional success. Work-based learning provides an excellent opportunity for teachers to help students develop the habit of setting goals and creating realistic plans to achieve them. An important goal setting activity is to have students develop a personal career road map for their career path beyond high school.

View the S.M.A.R.T. Goals video below for some recommended practices.

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Take a moment to download What Makes a Goal SMART.

Create a Budget – Explore Money Management

Student showing picture of money tree

Many students enrolled in Career Preparation I or paid practicum courses will receive their first real paycheck as part of their WBL experience. Once again, the teacher is in a position to guide students in obtaining critical life skills. Learning to manage money takes more than a one-hour presentation. It is a skill that is better taught through applied learning over time. Many Texas high schools offer financial literacy courses. Paid WBL experiences can help students connect what they learn to real life.

For some students, getting their first paycheck is an eye-opening experience. The U.S. Federal Reserve offers curriculum for educating students about personal finances. It's Your Paycheck! can be adapted for use in WBL classrooms. Lesson 2 introduces students to paychecks, W-4, and W-2 forms.

Another eye-opening activity to help students plan for life beyond high school is Texas RealityCheck, an online tool developed by the Labor Market and Career Information (LMCI) division of the Texas Workforce Commission. Texas RealityCheck helps the user calculate how much they need to earn to cover their monthly living expenses and other "stuff."


Take a moment to bookmark the Texas RealityCheck tool, It's Your Paycheck lesson, and the LCMI Products and Publications page for future reference. LCMI is a good source of current employment data.

Update Career Portfolios

Student handing a teacher her career porfolio

At the beginning of most WBL experiences, students develop resumes as part of their job search.

Teach students the importance of career portfolios and how to create one. By the end of the course, students should have a complete and up-to-date career portfolio to use in future job searches after high school.


Attend Job and Career Fairs

Job fair sign with arrow

Armed with an updated career portfolio and ready for graduation, students are ready to begin searching for employment beyond a WBL experience.

Create activities that include preparing for and attending career fairs on campus and community job fairs in your region. Provide contact information for the local chamber of commerce, workforce development board, and Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). Encourage students to research the various opportunities and then update their career roadmap with specific goals for the fairs.

Many school districts host career fairs on campus to enable students to explore a variety of career options. Campus career fairs provide a good place for students to talk with representatives from various businesses and industries in a fun, non-threatening environment.

Participating in a community job fair is one way students can test their interviewing and presentation skills on a wide-range of prospective employers. Community job and career fairs are often sponsored by local chambers of commerce, industry groups, or workforce development boards. Attending a job fair may seem more intimidating to students because they feel they are competing with older more experienced adults. However, this is where career preparation and practicum students actually have an advantage for entry level positions. Many of the other individuals do not have the knowledge and skills gained from an authentic WBL experience.

Quick Check #2

Quick Check #3

Quick Check #4

Texas CTE Resource Center

Teacher planning lessons
TEA has provided instructional resources for each cluster, including course TEKS, career cluster resources, and lessons on the Texas CTE Resource Center.

These materials are provided as a convenience to give new teachers a starting place upon which to build their own lesson plans.


Take a moment to bookmark the WBL teacher resources on the Texas CTE Resource Center

Sample Instructional Materials

Teacher planning lessons
TEA has provided sample lesson plans and rubrics for WBL classroom activities.

The classroom activities and lesson plans are examples of what other teachers have used in their WBL programs. They are provided as a convenience to give new teachers a starting place upon which to build their own lesson plans.

Activities and lesson plans are intended as samples only and are not endorsed by the TEA as the required or most acceptable format.


Take a moment to bookmark these sites.
1 SkillsUSA Career Readiness Curriculum Career Readiness Curriculum available through SkillsUSA
2 Edutopia S.M.A.R.T. Goal Lesson Edutopia lesson on setting S.M.A.R.T. goals
3 The 411 on Disability Disclosure Workbook Downloadable guidebook and MP3 audio file with 8 units and activities for students with disabilities.
4 Safety in Agriculture Curriculum and other resources provided by Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY)
5 CareerSafe CareerSafe workplace safety resources and training materials
6 OSHA Young Workers Website Information and resources provided by OSHA to help protect young workers
7 Youth Rules! Resources to promote positive safe work experiences for youth
8 CEV Career and Technical Education Curriculum CEV career and technical education curriculum provider
9 Occupational Outlook Handbook A-Z index of U.S. Department of Labor BLS job information and projected pay rates
10 IRS Resources for Understanding Taxes Student and teacher resources for understanding income tax including lesson plans and sample tax forms
11 It's Your Paycheck! Lesson plans and other resources for teaching personal money management


Lesson Review