Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Out-of-School Time Services (PA-OST) 14: Programming and Activities: College and Career Readiness

Youth receive support and assistance that prepare them to enter and succeed in college and the workforce.
NA College and career preparation is not a core element of the programs run by the agency.
2020 Edition




Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.
Note: Please note that the more general expectations included in PA-OST 9 also apply to the activities addressed in this core concept.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
No Self-Study Evidence
  • Curricula for previous six months
  • Programming/activity plans for previous six months
  • Daily schedules for past month
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth and families
  • Observe program activities
  • Review files of youth


PA-OST 14.01

The agency motivates youth for success by: 
  1. helping them examine and discover their individual strengths, interests, values, and aspirations;
  2. explaining the potential impact that higher education and career readiness can have on life outcomes;
  3. providing opportunities to learn about different options and paths related to higher education and employment; and
  4. helping them understand the steps involved in pursuing a particular path, including how instruction and activities at school or the program can contribute to progress toward goals.
Examples: The focus and breadth of content may vary across agencies. For example, agencies may strive to expose youth to a wide range of careers across fields, or be more specifically focused on a particular discipline (e.g., STEM). Similarly, agencies may invite guest speakers, take youth on field trips to visit workplaces or college campuses, or arrange mentorships and internships for youth.


PA-OST 14.02

Youth are helped to gain a better understanding of college and workplace norms, cultures, and expectations.


PA-OST 14.03

The agency helps youth develop and practice the soft skills that can help them enter and succeed in college and the workforce, including skills related to: 
  1. managing time;
  2. setting goals and making plans;
  3. accessing needed information and resources;
  4. solving problems;
  5. thinking critically; 
  6. making decisions; and 
  7. evaluating their own work and progress.


PA-OST 14.04

Youth interested in higher education are helped to: 
  1. identify institutions that meet their needs and interests;
  2. take steps that may increase their chances for admission; and
  3. complete the application process.
Examples: Youth may need assistance with many aspects of the application process, including, but not limited to: meeting deadlines; taking the SATs; gathering recommendations; and obtaining financial aid or scholarships.


PA-OST 14.05

Youth have opportunities to participate in activities that allow them to develop and practice technical skills in particular fields.
NA The agency does not offer opportunities to develop and practice technical skills in particular fields.
Examples: Opportunities to develop and practice technical skills may be provided either on-site (e.g., through project-based activities such as those addressed in PA-OST 9) or off-site (e.g., through arrangements such as internships, apprenticeships, or job-shadowing opportunities).


PA-OST 14.06

Youth receive the assistance and social support they need to navigate the transition to college or the workforce.


While practices addressed throughout both this core concept and PA-OST as a whole are intended to prepare youth for success in college and career (e.g., by promoting social-emotional development, academic advancement, and knowledge of college and career opportunities), this standard is intended to address the support provided during the transitional period when youth actually enter college or the workforce.
Examples: In addition to providing support during the initial transition to college or the workforce, some agencies may even provide ongoing support in an effort to help youth persevere through obstacles and accomplish their goals.