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Youth Leadership News

Career Exploration and Your Future

Career exploration is one way to find out about multiple career options. It is one of the steps needed for a smooth transition to an independent life after high school. Career exploration can happen at home, at school, or in the community. 

During career exploration, you take part in a variety of activities that can assist in figuring out your unique interests, skills, and talents. If you have this knowledge, you will be better prepared to identify the next steps after high school.

Career exploration activities may include:

  • Receiving or searching for information about careers, training programs, costs, and benefits.
  • Community learning experiences such as internships, service learning experiences (volunteering, assisting in organizing events, or advocating), and shadowing (following a worker in the field of interest). 
  • Completing assessments at your school with the help of your special education coordinator or counselor. 
If you want to start exploring careers, check out:
Map My Grad: Which Classes to Take in High School?
Planning for your future should start as early as possible, but it is never too late to learn what you need to do before leaving high school. Involve your family, Transition Coordinator, Special Education, Counselors, and any other adult or public agencies that can help you to plan for what you will need in the future. 

How Self-Determined Are You?  

Self-determination and self-advocacy skills are critical to your success in postsecondary education, employment, and adult living. These skills are key to your transition process.

Self-determination is the ability to identify and achieve goals based on a foundation of knowing and valuing oneself.  Complete this checklist to find out how self-determined you are. 

Self-advocacy is asking for what you need. This skill helps you:
  1. Obtain what is needed
  2. Make personal choices
  3. Learn to say no
  4. Express disagreement respectfully 
Examples of practicing self-advocacy include:
  • Having self-knowledge of strengths, preferences, and needs
  • Knowing your rights
  • Communicating effectively in one-on-one, small-group, and large-group situations
  • Knowing when to ask for help
Learn more about self-advocacy and self-determination:
What is a Transition and Employment Services Designee?

18+ Programs in Texas 

Texas' 18+ services (usually known as Adult Transition Services or ATS) are designed to be specialized, age-appropriate instructional services for young adult students ages 18 to 21 years that are being served by special education. 

Even though IDEA does not require schools to provide a transition program to students 18 and 21, Texas law (TAC 89.035 (a)) and federal law (CFR 300.101) require that special education services must be available for eligible students 18-21 (or 22, depending on which month your birthday is in). 

These services must be provided in age-appropriate settings. This means that you may receive services: 

  • At a high school campus
  • In the school district
  • In the community

Your 18+ services must go along with your transition plan and will provide related services, accommodations, technology, or community-based supports. These services include the areas of post-secondary education and training, integrated employment, and independent living. 

For more information visit Navigate Life Texas or Region 4.

Differences between High School and College

Transitioning to any post-secondary educational environment will bring challenges, however, when we compare services between high school and colleges there is a big difference. 

On top of dealing with changes in where you live, the food you eat, and academic expectations, among others, students with disabilities face the challenge of how support services are requested and arranged.

If you decide to attend college, you will have to play a more active role in advocating for what you need. In other words, you will have to put to use your self-advocacy and self-determination skills. 

Learn more:


Texas High Schools
Endorsements and Paths

 Transition and Employment  Designee

Visit website


Independent Futures That Work Project

The contents of this email were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H328M200041, #H328M200042, #H328M200043, #H328M200044. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
Copyright © 2022 Partners Resource Network, All rights reserved.

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