Roadtrip Nation


partner research project sponsored by

2017 Beating the Odds Roadtrip

Report of Findings

For underserved students and their communities, college and career navigation is a critical step toward future success. The 2017 Beating the Odds Roadtrip, conducted by Roadtrip Nation, provided three underserved students with an opportunity to travel across the U.S. and interview 16 inspiring professionals about their lives, their challenges, and how they were able to achieve education and career success. Thematic qualitative analysis was conducted with the interview data from leaders and roadtrippers. This report details those findings and insights.

The purpose of this report is to:

  1. Draw attention to the conditions and obstacles that may influence the education and career trajectories of underserved youth,
  2. Unpack the factors and actions that support beating the odds and navigating education and career paths effectively, and
  3. Offer recommendations for important stakeholders who can help young people achieve their education and career goals. 

About Roadtrip Nation

Roadtrip Nation is a nonprofit organization working to change the way people approach choosing a career by creating content, products, and experiences that guide individuals in exploring what’s possible when they follow their interests.

Through its documentary series and film specials, Roadtrip Nation explores what it means to build a career—and more importantly, a life—around the things you love. Follow the journeys of groups of people as they travel across the country in a green RV, sit down with professionals who share their interests, and gain insight into what it takes to overcome struggle and find personal success.

Where you come from doesn't determine where you end up.


These recommendations are an extension of the roadtrippers’ insights and are designed to help young people navigate their education and career pathways successfully.


  • Build in experiences for children to learn about themselves and potential education and career options by interacting with others, exploring the world of work and school, and trying out different activities (e.g., college fairs, part-time jobs, internships, and volunteering). 
  • Provide confidence-building encouragement and positive reinforcement to your children for what they accomplish (e.g., for solving a problem, for learning a new skill).
  • Coach your children to see setbacks and obstacles as temporary, and to focus their energy and attention on ways to keep moving forward and/or seek assistance and information from others when confronted by challenging situations.
  • Expand options available to your children by encouraging them to avoid limited thinking about education and career choices  (such as the belief that you can only get a good job with a four-year degree, or that certain careers are only appropriate for boys or girls) and to consider a wide range of education and career possibilities for the future.
  • Encourage your children to be successful education and career navigators by learning how to define goals and make plans to achieve them. This does not happen automatically, but is a skill that can be learned through practice.

Teachers/Counselors/Other Educators and Advisors

  • Meet students where they are at by understanding their backgrounds. Take an active role in seeking out opportunities to learn about students’ lives outside of the classroom and school environment.
  • Encourage students to seek out a variety of individuals who might function as mentors, advisors, or coaches; establish connections between students and potential supports who have similar characteristics. Help students learn how to approach someone to ask for advice and mentorship.
  • Provide opportunities for students to develop and find out about their interests and passions (e.g., encourage participation in extracurricular activities, classroom learning activities).
  • Encourage students to recognize that the entire range of education and career options available to them are worthwhile, and important for meeting diverse goals.
  • Provide opportunities for students to develop the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for college and career planning success (e.g., using feedback to evaluate fit between desired lifestyle and goals, building realistic plans based on goals, evaluating and using quality tools to gain self-knowledge and greater understanding of education and work).


  • Support policies that will promote the conditions by which schools can foster more inclusive environments.
  • Support legislation that ensures educators, counselors, advisors, and students have access to sufficient resources to support their teaching, counseling, advising, and learning needs.
  • Support legislation that advances education and career navigation by encouraging greater coordination across K-12, postsecondary, and workforce to develop education and career paths that support the success of all students.
  • Support policies that advance education and career navigation best practices in schools by making use of relevant data and research findings supportive of efficacious actions.
  • Support policies that better assist and protect young people who interact with, or navigate their way through, various governmental systems to reduce their potential negative influences.


Resources designed to help students successfully navigate their education and career pathways.

Student & Parents

Resources to aid in planning for life after high school.

K-12 Educators

Holistic learning solutions for every student at every step.

K-12 Counselors

Free resources for student learning and retention.


Insights & resources for states, workforce, and education.

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About ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning

ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning focuses on closing gaps in equity, opportunity and achievement for underserved populations and working learners. Through purposeful investments, employee engagement, and thoughtful advocacy efforts, the Center supports innovative partnerships, actionable research, initiatives, campaigns, and programs to further ACT’s mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success.