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What is Possibility Development?

Possibility development — UPenn GSE's Professor Michael J. Nakkula describes it as “the capacity to conceive of possibilities in one’s life and then actualize them with support.” It’s the ability to dream about an incredible future while also having a team to lift you up along the way, providing you with the skills you need to reach the highest levels of success in something you’re passionate about.

When it comes to bringing possibility development to life, this growth style can be broken down into five simple steps:

The Five Steps of Possibility Development

  1. Exploring Personal Interests — This is where we draw kids in. We take what they like, and turn it into a path that leads to future success. For example, if a student loves horses, we’ll talk all about the animal, why they love them, if they’d like to work with them every day of their lives, and so on. We’ll ask why they’re so great, and likely hear plenty of heartwarming stories about horse camp and riding sessions.

  2. Prioritizing Interests to Pursue — Now we turn that interest into something that could truly happen in the future. Maybe this student would enjoy becoming a livestock veterinarian or a professional horse trainer. We discuss the jobs, the duties, and the path it takes to get there (schooling, internships, etc.).

  3. Planning for Action — Now how does this student get into veterinary school in the first place? They’ll need to attend a four-year college, and earlier yet they’ll need to do well in high school to create a transcript that impresses the school of their dreams. Maybe they’ll need to take a few extra science classes, and they’ll definitely need to brush up their study skills to ensure their grades land them at the top of the college applicant list.

  4. Actual Action — It’s time for the student to take those first steps to bring their dreams to life. Solid learning skills, such as sitting in the front of the class and taking notes to study from home will actually improve their chances of working with horses every day in the future. They’ll envision their goals as they move through the tedious tasks — kids are motivated to carry on long-term if we provide them with the tools and support they need to succeed.

  5. Assessment — How are their efforts holding up? Have their grades improved? Are they high enough to get into the school of their dreams? If so, continue on in the way they’ve begun. If not, we’ll analyze and find new ways to support the student as they work toward achieving their —very real— dreams.

How Possibility Development is Supporting Middle Schoolers Today

Possibility development works for middle schoolers because it gives them a reason to work hard in school. It shows them that their futures truly can include the careers they dream about, but that it will take a few years of hard work to get there.

At, we’d be more than happy to support your students’ journeys toward college success via our possibility development smartphone app. Simply contact us today to learn more about how our software can support your students — from their first day of middle school through their first course in college.


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