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Events Help Counselors Visualize Learning Pathways

When a high school student wants to get a jumpstart on college credit, their mind often goes to AP credit. But, there’s a whole other world of possibility in community college classes.

Thanks to partnerships with SCCRC colleges, high school students can experience what a college class is like and start on a career pathway that can lead to a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree.

However, the path from high school to certificate or degree can get a little complicated. Each career pathway has its own requirements, and transfer credit processes vary from college to college.

Six events recently held throughout the region helped high school and college counselors gain a new perspective on the career pathways available to their students, and how those pathways connect across institutions.

Karen Miles, Regional Career Pathways Technical Assistance Provider for SCCRC, facilitated the workshops. The goal, Miles, said, was for participants to expand their thinking about college classes available to high school students, and how those courses align with degrees and certificates offered at SCCRC institutions.

“We needed high school and college counselors to be more aware,” Miles said. “High school counselors they tend to think in terms of AP classes instead of community college classes. College counselors didn’t know about career pathways in the high schools.”

Rather than just explain those concepts, Miles took a hands-on approach to teaching.

Participants at each event were given a list of classes offered by their community college as and asked to map a course path from high school to a certificate, associate degree, or transfer degree, then on to a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university.

Counselor event 1

The results will be compiled into a one-page information sheet for each career pathway that high schools and community colleges can display on their websites or print and compile into booklets to share with students and parents. Information will be available in English and Spanish.

Putting these paths together was not an easy task, but Miles said participants pulled it off and came away with an increased awareness about options available to their students through career pathways.

“The thinking was that if they were responsible for doing it, they would be more likely to refer students to those classes and to talk to parents about them,” Miles said.

Julie Samson, Director of the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at SBCC, said the mapping activity was beneficial for high school counselors.

“The event provided a great opportunity for counselors to chart the educational pathways for trending occupations,” Samson said.

John Bone Cordova, Health Deputy Sector Navigator at College of the Canyons, said the event provided an opportunity to educate high school counselors on the health career pathway. He’d worked with the high school counselors previously, but never quite in this way.

“This was for some the first time meeting a colleague in a different learning environment, and for some helped to solidify the conversation of high school to college programs,” Cordova said. “The attendees were well engaged, with plenty of support and resources made available.”

In addition to the mapping activity, the events also included a keynote from Sandi Harwell of the Center for Occupational Research and Development, a Texas-based nonprofit that has helped colleges and universities across the country design career pathways.

Harwell shared best practices from her work in other states and gave counselors resources for more information on career pathways.

Counselor event 2

The programs included participation from all eight SCCRC members over a whirlwind three days in late February and early March. Miles said she hopes to have the credit transfer outlines ready by the end of June.

Although those information sheets are a nice benefit of the counselor events, Miles said the ultimate goal they achieved was much broader than that.

“I didn’t want the outcome to be documentation, but more the shift in thinking with the counselors,” Miles said. “It seems that certainly was the case. There were some very interesting conversations and some tough questions being asked.”

No matter which classes students take, everyone involved in making the career pathways happen is working as part of the same team.

“Witnessing the energy and excitement between the high school and community college counselors as they discussed career pathways reflected their desire to serve students with their career passions and goals,” said Paula Hodge, Deputy Sector Navigator for Information and Communication Technologies at Santa Clarita Community College.

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