High school students in Arizona now have a roadmap to postsecondary success including college and career or technical education, thanks to a new “College and Career Planning Guide” developed by Expect More Arizona in partnership with Northern Arizona University (NAU) and Arizona GEARUP.

The Guide features an inspirational letter from retired Arizona Cardinals football star Kurt Warner, who urges young people to “Dream Big and Plan for Postsecondary Success” as well as steps for students to follow for college and career readiness.

The Guides are being distributed to 8th, 9th and 10th graders across the state and are also available online to students and families who want to use them.

“It is never too early for young people to start planning for their future,” said Teena Olszewski, director of ARIZONA GEARUP.

“It’s not so important that students have decided upon a major before they start applying to college or post secondary programs – or know exactly what they want to do — but it is important that they begin seeing themselves in a future career they will love because it is this connection that will help them persist through post secondary education or training.”

The Guide encourages students to challenge themselves throughout their academic careers by taking rigorous courses and engaging in extracurricular activities that will help them prepare for life after high school.

Plus, there are financial rewards for students who go on to post secondary success. Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau find that people with a college degree earn substantially more than those without a post secondary education.

Over their lifetime, people with only a high school diploma earn on average $1.2 million, while those with a bachelor’s degree earn $2.1 million. Individuals who pursue a master’s degree earn twice as much as those with a diploma only, on average, $2.5 million over the course of their working lives.

And with 2/3 of future jobs requiring a college degree or advanced post secondary training, the partners hope to open the door to opportunities for our students while increasing the pipeline of skilled workers available to businesses in Arizona.

All schools are expected to have their hard copy booklets by spring 2011. Online copies can be downloaded here .