Our Story

Changing Attitudes and Changing Lives since 1990!

Academic Innovations is the publisher of the nationally-acclaimed Career Choices series curriculum and My10yearPlan.com®. With a proven track record spanning more than 30 years, these cutting-edge materials have been used in more than 5,600 schools, colleges, and programs nationwide—impacting the lives of more than 2.5 million students. The Career Choices series blends self-discovery, career exploration, social and emotional learning, and college/career readiness to create an innovative educational program that helps students create roadmaps to achieve their academic, career, and life goals.

We believe that ALL students deserve the opportunity to envision a productive future of their own design, and that EVERY student can achieve the future they envision when they are:
  • - Empowered with key life skills
  • - Equipped with a plan that is founded on their own closely held goals and dreams
  • - Dedicated to acquiring the requisite education or training

The Career Choices series provides a foundation for Get Focused...Stay Focused!®, a scalable, cost-efficient program that promotes high school graduation, post-secondary completion, and successful, skilled entry into the workforce. Get Focused...Stay Focused!® has been remarkably successful at motivating students to make high school meaningful and take their education—and futures—seriously. Beginning in the 9th grade (or middle school with an optional bridge curriculum), the Career Choices series teaches students how to create a meaningful 10-year Plan. The Get Focused...Stay Focused!® Follow-Up Modules then help students advance their 10-year Plan, preparing them for the transition from high school to post-secondary training or college and into their adult careers.

Academic Innovations is the curriculum partner of the Get Focused Stay Focused National Resource Center.




Success Stories



Cabrillo High School New Kirk High School Chaparral High School Granite High School Kern Union High School District Cherryvale Middle High School Cosumnes Oaks High School Hatch Valley High School McDade Jr. High School Orcutt Academy High School Pendleton High School Shafter High School Summit Charter Collegiate Academy Tenino High School Ygnacio Valley High School Woonsocket High School Dos Pueblos Senior High School McNair High School Arkansas City High School Indio High SchoolSilverado High SchoolEastern Oregon UniversityRahway High SchoolDATA from successful programs



Student Testimonials


Student Testimonials
"This class has helped me a lot because I learned that everything is gained by hard work. It helped me realize that all the rich and famous people didn’t get rich or famous by just sitting down and playing video games or using the computer, they got where they are now by studying and working hard."
Gerardo

Student Testimonials
"[Freshman Seminar] made me think that I could be somebody in life. When I was in middle school, I never wanted to go to college; I always thought it was a waste of time. But no, it is very important, and this class is not boring at all. I learned lots of things about life and it has changed me and I’m proud of that. Everything we do here is going to help us later on in our lives."
Jarrod

Student Testimonials
"Freshman Seminar isn’t like other classes. It doesn’t teach us fancy equations, grammar, or any scientific formulas... it teaches us about LIFE. Before I came to this class, I can truthfully say that I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I knew I wanted a family and a stable job that I loved going to, but I really had no idea about the steps it would take to get there. Now, I’m no longer going to be looking for a ‘job’ when I’m older, I’m going to be searching inside myself for what career is best for me."
Kristina

Student Testimonials
"This class has really helped me figure out my values, strengths, and weaknesses. I love this class and I’m really learning from it. It’s really showing me how life really is and I think that in the next few months I will learn even more. It’s a really good idea to take this class freshman year to be prepared for the next few years."
Erika

Student Testimonials
"This class is beneficial because it helps you stay focused and keeps you on track. This class helped me a lot. It helps because of all the stories we read about people, how some are successful and how some are not. I think this class makes you really see the true meaning of life and that it’s not easy, and how hard you have to work to be where you want to be. All in all, I believe this class was truly a great amount of help."
Jessica

Student Testimonials
"Freshman Seminar has helped me a lot. It has shown me how to make smart choices for life when I’m older. It’s a great class and it helps you think about what you want to do in life and where you want to be. It’s helping me figure out who I am and how I will get what I want in life. It’s a great class to be in and it helps in figuring out you and your life."
Kyra

Student Testimonials
"Without this class I would probably get thrown out into the real world with no idea of how hard it is to take care of a family. I came into this class not thinking it would help me and I have found that this is my favorite class of the day. I think this is a really helpful class and I am extremely glad Indio High School has this program and I got to experience it with Mrs. Ruiz."
Destiny

Student Testimonials
"Freshman Seminar has helped me realize how important school is and how its going to help me in the future. I set many goals for myself that require money and education. I planned to have a big house but when I found out how much it would cost I changed my plan to be more reasonable. I am currently working to raise my grades because they are terrible and that won’t help me in the future. My Freshman Seminar teacher, Mr. Adkins, has helped me learn that what I do or don’t do will affect my future, and I want to have a future that I can enjoy."
Briana

Student Testimonials
"The class also taught me that the choices I make now are going to effect me in the future, so I better make good choices so I can be the best I can be, so I can live the life I want."
Nassem Alwishah

Teacher Testimonials

“Many students see a greater need to stay in school. Most were 'bowled over' by the budgeting chapter. I believe [the program] will markedly reduce our dropout rate in high school.”

Veronica J. Hambacker, Iron Co. C-4
Junior High School, Missouri

“We wanted to do something about the school’s academic culture starting with the freshman class. [In our second year,] we had a 38% drop [in freshmen with 3 or more Fs], and GPAs went up 15%.”

Rudy Ramirez,
Indio High School, California

“The first year, my biggest success was when students of different races found common ground and learned a language to talk to each other.”

Susan Henneberg,
Washoe High School, Nevada

“The curriculum gave students good focus for the rest of their high school years and afterward.”

John Wolfe,
Hardee Senior High School, Florida

“Most of the time when students, even good students, complete high school they still don’t have a clear picture or focus about what they want to be or what their major should be. But students who come to college knowing what they want to be and having researched that are going to finish—and that’s huge. That’s why [Santa Barbara City College has made] the investment in the ninth grade course.”

Dr. Diane Hollems,
Santa Barbara City College, California




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Meet Dain Blanton



Olympic Gold Medalist Dain Blanton works closely with Academic Innovations to inspire, educate and motivate students. Blanton's mantra of "life is what you make it," fits perfectly with Academic Innovations' goal of helping all students realize their potential.

In partnership with Academic Innovations, Blanton visits high schools around the country to share his story of perseverance, commitment and ultimate triumph to help motivate students to follow their dreams. Many of the students who participate in Academic Innovations' various programs have difficulty opening up and expressing their fears, concerns and life goals, but Blanton, through his sensitivity and ability to relate, consistently helps students overcome educational barriers and believe in themselves.






Dain Blanton Promo VideoZoom Dain's Journey to the Gold MedalZoom











Frequently Asked Questions


A Freshman Transition Initiative is a classroom-based, comprehensive guidance effort starting in either the 8th or 9th grade. A key goal of a Freshman Transition Initiative is that, by the end of 9th grade, students have created an individualized 10-year Plan after completing a course based on the Freshman Transition Standards developed by Dr. Rebecca Dedmond of the Freshman Transition Initiative at The George Washington University.

Then, as students move through high school, the 10-year Plan is revisited, updated, and refined as students learn more about themselves. This can happen with the use of three Get Focused...Stay Focused!® Follow-Up Modules or through a series of school-wide 10-year Plan activities. The 10-year Plan is used by the guidance team, administrators, and classroom teachers to inform counseling, disciplinary, and academic coaching meetings, becoming an integral part of the school culture.

Get Focused...Stay Focused!® (GFSF) is a scalable, cost-efficient program model inspired by the Freshman Transition Initiative. The result of a GFSF program is that students graduate with an informed pathway to secondary training and/or education and the skills to be employable.

A cornerstone to the GFSF program methodology is the Career Choices series curriculum and My10yearPlan.com®. These comprehensive guidance course materials, delivered in either a hybrid or online format, take students through an in-depth decision-making process and the development of an individualized 10-year Plan.

Once students develop their online 10-year Plans, targeted lessons in three consecutive Get Focused...Stay Focused!® Follow-Up Modules ensure students stay focused on their goals. Each 16-lesson module provides students with an important “touchpoint” as they move through high school, preparing them to transition seamlessly to their post-secondary goal. And, the GFSF program can begin as early as middle school with Building a Bridge to Your Future, an innovative workbook designed to give students the skills, attitudes, and emotional resiliency that will propel them to success as they transition to high school.

Career Choices series and My10yearPlan.com® are the foundations of an interdisciplinary curriculum that engages students in a process that helps them develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to successfully:

  • examine their own lives (Who Am I?)
  • explore and effectively evaluate a wide range of education and career options (What Do I Want?)
  • make reasoned and researched goals for their future (How Do I Get It?)

The curriculum facilitates in-depth exploration centered around three fundamental questions––Who Am I? What Do I Want? How Do I Get It?––and culminates with students developing a 10-year Plan that acts as a touchstone, keeping them focused on their goals as they move through high school and on to post-secondary training, college, and/or the workforce.

The Career Choices series curriculum and My10yearPlan.com® are the cornerstones of the GFSF program methodology.

My10yearPlan.com® helps to deliver the Career Choices series process in a way that draws the best out of students. The carefully planned activities help students think about and plan for their future while acting as a “digital coach” who guides their decision-making process. The end result? Students map their own path to personal success based on the goals they set and the plans they make to achieve those goals in My10yearPlan.com®.

Our educational system faces many challenges as a result of structural or systemic inequalities that result in advantages for some and disadvantages for others. If we are to provide equal opportunity for all, additional support is needed for the many students who would otherwise fall through the gaping cracks in our education system. The Career Choices series, My10yearPlan.com®, and Get Focused...Stay Focused!® offer important guidance, focus, and instruction to help ALL students believe in themselves and in the possibilities presented by post-secondary education and training.

Teachers play a critical role! Not only do they provide the necessary instruction to help students understand the course content, but they also help students feel nurtured, valued, and connected to their school community, which are three key factors in student success.

Parents provide essential support to help their children succeed. Bringing parents into the Career Choices and Get Focused...Stay Focused!® process means they can reinforce the importance of career and life planning as a part of their homelife.

Our curriculum provides the content for a course that makes traditional counseling more effective. In class, students discuss and explore their futures with teachers as they work toward the creation of an online 10-year Plan. Then, through My10yearPlan.com®, every instructor, counselor, and advisor on campus has access to the hopes, dreams, and goals articulated in those 10-year Plans. As a result, academic coaching and counseling can be personalized for each student—a strategy that research shows is vital to student success.

The Career Choices series cannot guarantee success, but it does have a proven track record of giving students not only the tools and strategies for success but also the self-efficacy to believe that they can succeed.

Absolutely not. The Career Choices series and Get Focused...Stay Focused!® facilitate early career exploration and provide a process for researching the many possible career pathways that align with each student’s personal goals. This phase of the process results in students having a career direction, not a final career destination. Students also learn strategies for systematic decision making and goal setting, empowering them to review, reassess, and revise their plans throughout high school.

Academic Innovations is the private, for-profit company that created the Career Choices series and My10yearPlan.com®. As the publisher of the Get Focused...Stay Focused!® Follow-Up Modules, Academic Innovations is also the “private” half of a public/private partnership with the non-profit Get Focused Stay Focused National Resource Center.

Olympic gold medalist Dain Blanton serves as an admirable role model for GFSF students. He connects well with a wide range of students, inspiring them with his message of hope and achievement against the odds. He is an ambassador for the GFSF program and visits schools regularly as a motivational speaker, reinforcing the key tenets of GFSF. Many GFSF students believe in themselves because Dain Blanton believes in them.


In the News


Career-focused Watsonville school wins national award
First commencement speaker in school history brings Olympic Gold Medal to Carpinteria High-
School to inspire graduates to be ‘not afraid to fail’

Bridgeton High School wins award for education program
Eureka High wins top award
Bishop Union High School earns Career Choices Gold Medal
Hoopeston Area High School recognized for Freshman Success course
Antioch High School wins award for exceptional career-focused education program
Butterfield Charter School wins award for exceptional career-focused education program
Regional initiative helps students pursue education, life goals
Researcher for GFSF evaluation elected to membership in the National Academy of Education
New career-focused class at Esparto High helps students find their passion
Time to Change How Students Choose their College
Regional initiative helps students pursue education, life goals
Researcher for GFSF evaluation elected to membership in the National Academy of Education
New career-focused class at Esparto High helps students find their passion
Closing the rural-urban education gap: Editorial Agenda 2015
Eastern Promise Leader Dan Mielke Receives Prestigious "Edu-Preneur" Award
Olympic Medalist Speaks to Educators About Student Success
Effort to Encourage College Spreads in East Oregon
Cabrillo Freshmen Prepare for Future with Class
Santa Barbara Institutions Come Together to Change the Educational Paradigm
South High Wants Students Thinking Career Early