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Talent development is a personalized journey from potential to achievement.

CTD Pathways Approach

CTD’s Vision of Talent Development 

No student is born with a set destination. We believe that talents, passions, and goals are discovered through exploration, experience, and mentorship. When a student finds a pathway with CTD, they are guided toward achievement in school and in life.

At the Center for Talent Development, we believe that:

  • Talents and passions need to be identified and nurtured.
  • Talents can be developed through learning and practice.
  • Talent development requires more than content knowledge; it takes supporting the student holistically. 

Giftedness is not a state of being. It’s a process--a journey--that involves developing potential into achievement. 

Stages of the Talent Development Pathway

young girl with teacher reading book

Identify Potential and Emerging Talents

How do strengths and interests get identified? Through exploration. Through observation. Through assessment and guidance. At CTD students have a chance to learn, develop, and excel while being nurtured by committed educators. At this stage of the path, the student:

  • Explores subjects
  • Acquires foundational knowledge
  • Meets like-minded peers
  • Cultivates joy in learning
middle students doing experiment in physics class

Develop Competency

Once talents are identified, our educators work to challenge and support students, moving them along their path and helping them identify goals. We help students create a foundation of knowledge on which they can build their future. We don’t set a goal. We open up possibilities. At this stage of the path, the student:

  • Focuses on their talent area
  • Accelerates and enriches their learning
  • Collaborates with like-minded peers
  • Achieves at a high level
two high school students in discussion

Cultivate Expertise

The foundation has been set. The journey is underway. The possibilities that come from developing and cultivating a talent are endless. Here the student applies what they have learned to create a path for college and career. At this stage of the path, the student:

  • Benefits from mentoring and apprenticeships
  • Takes advanced-level course work
  • Networks with peers and professionals
  • Participates in authentic fieldwork
  • Explores their future careers

student course pathway over time

"At Center for Talent Development, we believe giftedness is not a trait, like your eye color or fingerprint, but rather a process—a journey—that involves developing potential into achievement." - Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Former CTD Director

talent development funnel

Supporting Talent Means More Than Academics

The path you take in life isn’t built entirely on class work. At CTD, we believe a student is more than their academic achievement or test scores. Building towards success is a combination of academic excellence and emotional development. That’s why we also nourish psychological and social strengths. We help students develop:

  • Motivation
  • Persistence
  • Self-confidence
  • Collaboration
  • A community of peers and mentors

When the whole person is nurtured, the future is limitless. 

Need Help Getting Started? 

If you would like to work with a CTD staff member to discuss your child’s strengths, interests, or talent development pathway, consider setting up a consultation.

2023 © Northwestern University Center for Talent Development