Allen Parish students are getting a little extra help in finding the right path to advance beyond high school and become productive citizens thanks to the Career Compass program. (mgnonline.com)
Last Modified: Saturday, September 14, 2013 8:19 PM
OBERLIN — Allen Parish students are getting a little extra help in finding the right path to advance beyond high school and become productive citizens.
Through the Career Compass program, begun last year, career coaches are helping students in grades 8-12 pursue the right college or career path. The program is now in 28 school districts statewide, including Vernon Parish.
“Our main focus is to help students plan whether they want to be college- or career-bound and guide them in pursuing those endeavors,” said Kent Reed, career and technical education supervisor.
In the past, 35 percent to 40 percent of all Allen Parish high school seniors were enrolled in a four-year university, with 20 percent enrolling in a community college. Of those, 18 percent completed a four-year degree, Reed said.
The career coaches and dual-enrollment programs have increased enrollment to 50 percent, he said.
“We went up 10 percent, which is pretty significant,” Reed said. “Exactly one-half of the past year’s seniors are now enrolled in a four-year degree program.”
Funding from the Orchard Foundation and Rapides Foundation are helping provide coaches, resources and support services to high school students.
“Every student in Allen Parish needs a skill so they can be employed and have a career,” Reed said.
Laying the foundation for a college or career path begins in the ninth grade when career coaches hold seminars twice a year to meet with students to discuss exams, scholarship requirements and the criteria for college entrance. Students also learn the differences between a university, community college and technical school.
A new program this year will also help the parish’s nearly 250 10th-grade students navigate a post-secondary school path. “All students follow the same curriculum through 10th-grade,” Reed said. “This program will have two diploma tracks — college and career.”
Students may choose which track they want to pursue at the completion of their sophomore year, he said. They all spend more time pursuing their path of choice their junior and senior year.
Career coaches also meet with all juniors in the fall to discuss the ACT, college entrance criteria, financing options and dual-enrollment options.
“The biggest benefit is working with seniors,” Reed said. “The goal is to meet one on one with every senior in Allen Parish until every senior has applied and been accepted into some form of post-secondary education.”
Those students who do not plan to attend college are prepared for the workforce beginning with eighth-grade students. “We need to start them thinking about preparing for high school and what to do later in life,” Reed said.
Eighth-graders attend a local career day and join their counterparts from five Southwest Louisiana parishes for a career day in Lake Charles. The students also work on individual graduation plans to map out courses they will take in high school.