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Youth in Transition Toolkit:


Postsecondary education and training

Postsecondary options

Has the youth explored available postsecondary education and training options related to their career goal?

The first step in making a decision about a postsecondary education and training is to determine a career goal. Then, it's time to explore options for postsecondary education and training.

  • Awareness: Understand available postsecondary education and training options related to the youth's career goal.
  • Exploration: Explore available postsecondary education and training options related to the youth's career goal.
  • Preparation: Select a postsecondary education or training option, include it in the youth's Personal Learning Plan and course of study, and complete steps for enrollment.
  • Implementation: Enter into postsecondary education or training and complete the program as independently as possible.

Postsecondary education counseling

LEARN: Develop your knowledge

Learn how to help youth explore postsecondary education and training options.

Options for postsecondary education and training include:

Some students may not be prepared to attend a postsecondary institution right out of high school. Adult basic education classes are often available free of charge to help students develop skills in reading, writing, math and computers. 

Customized and hands-on, apprenticeships allow a person to learn and earn. Wages increase as job-specific skills are mastered through classroom and on-the-job training. Learn how youth can be an apprentice from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, and consider other on-the-job training programs through the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline.

Also consider these apprenticeship resources from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Apprenticeship Unit:

Certifications are exams that test skills or knowledge after a person has prepared for a specific competency. Preparation programs for certifications include technical colleges, trade schools and workforce programs. Ideally, a certificate is endorsed by a relevant industry or professional association. On average, certificate holders earn 20% more than high school graduates without postsecondary education.

Examples of certificate programs include:

  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
  • Information technology certifications offered through Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft

Degree programs include:

  • Associate's degrees (2-year programs typically provided at technical and/or community colleges)
  • Bachelor's degrees (4-year programs offered at colleges and universities)
  • Graduate degrees (such as master's degrees and PhD programs)

Military options include Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, National Guard, Navy, Marines and Space Force. Learn more at

Hundreds of postsecondary education programs for youth with developmental and intellectual disabilities (I/DD) are available at college campuses across the country. These programs represent a unique opportunity for youth with I/DD to have the college experience while building independent living and work skills needed for adulthood.

Families are often unaware of these inclusive higher education programs. If cost is a barrier, federal financial aid may be an option. 

Options in Minnesota include:

  • Beyond Limits at Bethany Global College in Bloomington, Minnesota
  • BUILD at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minnesota
  • Occupational Skills Program at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota
  • Occupational Skills Program at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minnesota

Youth may also consider programs offered in other states.

Find a complete list of programs and other helpful resources at Think College.

Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) is a program that allows youth in 10th, 11th and 12th grades to earn college credit while still in high school. Concurrent enrollment courses are college courses offered at the high school, usually taught by a trained high school teacher. In both options, youth generate both college credit and high school credit by successful completion of coursework.

A postsecondary degree isn't necessarily required to be successful after high school. Review blog posts on nondegree pathways from American Student Assistance.

DO: Work with youth

Find resources to help youth explore options for postsecondary education and training.

Help youth learn Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) from the Minnesota Department of Education.

Help youth learn about concurrent enrollment (college courses that can be taken during high school) from the Minnesota Department of Education.

Apprenticeship Minnesota lists apprenticeship opportunities in Minnesota. Select the Be an Apprentice section.

Dual training is an earn-while-you-learn approach where the employer invests in the employee by providing training in competency-based work skills and related instructions. Visit Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline to explore dual-training options.

  • Share this Choosing a college (PDF) guide with students to help them understand three types of college and training options and consider which option might be right for them.
  • The Minnesota Office of Higher Education's Choosing a college website was developed to help students explore local and national college options. Review with youth tips for evaluating colleges, validating a school's claims and more. is a resource for military members, veterans and their families, and those who are interested in joining the military.

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