When Rangeview High School student Yonas Bayu plans out his week, it’s almost certain he’ll swing by the school’s college and career center. A frequent visitor – he comes three times per week – Bayu clearly understands why it is a good use of his time.
“I know that there are a lot of good schools out there, but it’s going to take a lot of research,” Bayu said. “You should know where you’re going to be comfortable at because you’re going to spend four years of your life there.”
Students focus on college and career planning at the centers located at Rangeview and Hinkley high schools. This is a powerful example of Goal 1 of APS 2020: Shaping the Future, the district’s strategic plan. The schools are APS’ first two beneficiaries of the collaborative partnership between the APS Foundation and the district’s Postsecondary Workforce Readiness department. While the PWR team is the programmatic voice of the centers, the Foundation provides funding to keep it running.
Each center serves a meeting ground for students to work with their respective college and career center coordinator on their postsecondary needs. Students are able to jump online to research colleges, scholarships as well as other options they may not know about.
“It’s beginning to create a change in the postsecondary mindset by giving the parents, students and the communities hope,” said Jazmin Lopez, Hinkley’s college and career center coordinator. “It gives all students the ability to see a future.”
Rangeview coordinator Betty Gessesse is seeing much of the same for her students and stressed the importance of providing them with multiple forms of support to help minimize the stress that a high school to postsecondary transition can create.
“A lot of our kids may not know where to start,” said Betty Gessesse, Rangeview’s college and career center coordinator. However, for her the most important thing is to let the students know “I may not know the answer, but I will help you get to that answer.”
For students like Nimo Jama, the college and career center has opened the door to not only thinking about life after high school, but having the confidence that she doesn’t have to go at it alone.
“When you have someone to help you, you’re going to come because you know you’re going to get help. And that’s what motivates me.”