David Conley, a researcher and expert on the topic of college and career readiness, defines what it means to be college and career ready. Although a "student who is ready for college and career can qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses leading to a baccalaureate or certificate, or career pathway-oriented training programs without the need for remedial or developmental coursework... not every student requires the same proficiency in all areas" (p. 1). In Conley's definition, college and career readiness consists of four “keys”: Key Cognitive Strategies, Key Content Knowledge, Key Learning Skills and Techniques, and Key Transition Knowledge and Skills. The definition stated in this brief is based on 18 years of empirical study and research on this topic, from multiple research studies and "on-the-ground interactions with practitioners."
Conley's college and career readiness definition appears in many of his writings about college and career ready standards, such as the Common Core State Standards. It is notable that Conley’s definition includes both the content knowledge and strategies (e.g., strategize, analyze, evaluate) and the skills (e.g., persistence, motivation, self-efficacy) that students need have to be successful in school and in their careers. This is a helpful brief to have on hand because it is short and easily accessible. The graphics and tables in the brief add to its readability and usability, and can be referenced by people in all levels of the education system: students, parents, teachers, and administrators.