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See how NISD is helping students map college, career plans with Xello

NEDERLAND — Students as young as seventh graders can start plotting their college trajectory with an eye toward career success and required skillsets via a new effort launching within the Nederland Independent School District.

Using Xello, a user-friendly online program for students, counselors and educators, NISD officials have upgraded a previous effort centered around the Career Cruising format.

Career & Technical Education Director Bill Jardell said students have access to the program, allowing them to take a survey that helps guide them to potential career interests.

“It has a personality style feature on there and also a learning style,” Jardell said. “The counselors use that information to help students map their four-year (high school) plan. It gives them good direction.

“We also start building a portfolio. We encourage the eighth graders to start because they will be graduating in four years and will need to start filling out scholarship applications. They will need information to include in there for things they have done in high school.”

Jardell said it’s extremely detailed, helping students with college planning by outlining different jobs and explaining what each performs and what is needed to secure them.

Each eighth grader meets with a counselor, who explains the program and gets them into it. Students complete a career exploration analysis and mark out their four-year high school plan, with a specific emphasis on ninth grade classes.

Jardell said NISD officials are working hard this year on course planning.

“It’s going to help the counselors get early numbers for inputting into our school information system,” he said. “Also, the students are taking responsibility for what courses they want to take and planning a little bit in the future. The whole goal is to encourage them to advocate for themselves.

“I’m trying to get them not to take courses because their friends are but to take courses because you have an interest there and want to find out if you like it.”

Core courses are still required, but this helps students pick the best electives for future opportunities.

The self-assessments also provide students a list of career matches and gives them a breakdown of their top skills, like analyzing, critical thinking, decision making and problem solving. That information matches the students to one of 16 career and technical education clusters.

A resume feature is included for older students looking to join the workforce.

The ultimate goal is for students to build a portfolio they can use to sell themselves to colleges or future employers.

“It’s going to be highly competitive, and we’re trying to give our students tools to put themselves in the best position to be employable,” Jardell said.