New opportunities for high school students to preview career choices are increasingly available due to district Career Academies programs. .
While college degrees grow more expensive, hundreds of Sioux City high school students are knocking out tuition-free college courses and exploring career paths before ever setting foot on a college campus.
Thanks to the school district’s growing Career Academies program, high school juniors and seniors can earn both high school and college credit in more areas of study than ever before. And while cutting future college costs, students are also saving time figuring out their futures.
“So many times our students aren’t allowed to take courses that hit what their interests are or allow them to explore different careers,” said Jim Vanderloo, district director of secondary education.
“We have some students who feel lost where they don’t know what they want to do. I think this is helping those students in that situation.”
Students can take college-level classes from 14 different areas of study ranging from business to health science and from education to engineering and technology. Most classes equate to three college credits, and students incur a fee only if they earn more than 23 credits in a year.
Some students even finish high school with certificates or associate degrees in such areas as education, nursing, child development, pharmacy technology and welding, allowing them to enter the workforce after graduating.
Like Tiederman, Marco Rojas, a West High School senior, also is undecided on college or a career. But after the final exam, they both felt the fire science class they took this fall showed them what it really means to be a firefighter.
Rojas said he wanted to explore the career further while keeping his options open.
“I’m going to take firefighter 2 and continue on with it, but I’m not 100 percent sure I’m going to actually be a firefighter,” he said.
Freshmen and sophomores can take some of the more basic career academy classes as electives instead of for college credit as a way to help them begin their career searches at an early age, said Jen Gomez, head counselor for the district.