As college drop-out rates rise and young adult unemployment reaches levels unseen since the Great Depression, a growing consensus of business and academic leaders are asking whether a traditional four-year college education is always the best path to a successful career. The mission of the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education is to get this question out in the open—and encourage Americans to explore new approaches to education reform that offer multiple paths to career fulfillment.

This question was explored at the October 11th NEF symposium, “Expanding the Dialogue: What Do Kids Need to Succeed in the 21st Century?” The first in the 2011–2012 NEF Community Education Series, the event featured a keynote address by Pathways to Prosperity director William Symonds and a panel discussion with Needham Public Schools superintendent Dr. Daniel Gutekanst and other local leaders in business and education.