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Thursday, 29 March 2018 18:46

Career-Focused Programs Offer MN High School Students Several Options

Written by Erin Hinrichs, MinnPost
A student practices welding in an auto body class at Burnsville High School. A student practices welding in an auto body class at Burnsville High School. MinnPost photo by Erin Hinrichs

Index

The pathways program at Burnsville High School officially launched in the fall of 2016. Funded by a referendum, it was part of a high school expansion and redesign effort aimed at ensuring that all graduates leave with a concrete plan---whether that means enrolling in a four-year college after graduating, or planning for a two-year degree first and then transferring to a four-year college to complete the degree, or going straight into an intensive industry training program that will immediately lead to a five- or six-figure job.

 

In Burnsville, the redesign effort signals a pretty radical departure from the common high school experience---one that valorizes four-year college pursuits and leaves most career exploration to off-site internships.

 

“Students are being guided and counseled based on their own passions and interests. They learn about a wide variety of careers based on those passion and interests,” said Kathy Funston, director of strategic partnerships and pathways for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District. “We try to be very real with them: Here is the pay scale. Here are the opportunities.”

 

A similar high school expansion and redesign effort is nearing completion at Shakopee High School, where students will begin enrolling in academies in the fall.

 

The Career-Track Design

 

In the Burnsville High School course catalog, the pathway offerings are divided into four main career fields: arts, global communications and information systems; design, engineering and manufacturing technologies; business, management and entrepreneurship; and health sciences and human services. Within each career field, there are multiple career pathways that lay out a recommended series of classes.

 

But if students have a change of heart, they’re able to test out another career pathway---free of the financial consequences they’d have to deal with if they decided to drastically alter course once they’d already enrolled in a postsecondary program.


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