Allen Parish students getting extra help in finding right career path

By By Doris Maricle / American Press

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.