AKRON, Ohio — Graduating high school means students have to make a choice about their future: Go to college, a trade school or enter the workforce. With today's booming job market, it can be a tough choice.
But guidance counselors are playing a critical role in prepping students about what comes next.
At Akron Public Schools, they're readying students with their College & Career Academies. The plan, introduced to the district a few years ago, allows students to pursue their interests and passions related to high-demand careers in Northeast Ohio.
"We are always preparing kids for both college and career at the same time," said Rachel Tecca, the director for College & Career Academies. "And their future is driven by where their interests and goals are. That's what our goal is for all of our students to make sure that they have choices, they have options and that their future is whatever it is they choose to do."
For some, their interests may include nursing, for others, it may be marketing or even manufacturing and skilled trades.
"I'm hopeful that it saves our families and our community a lot of money without changing majors and college," said Tecca.
Brian Caperones is a school counselor at Akron's North High School. He said even if students choose a career path and later decide it's not for them, the plan still better prepares students for life following graduation.
"Maybe they like it, maybe it's not for them, but you're going to learn something that's passed that you can use wherever you're going to be in life later on," he said.
Tecca said now more than ever it's important for APS counselors to listen to their students and give them the tools necessary for whatever path they choose -- whether it's college or a full-time job.
"Our students have options. They have talent, and they also are pretty clear that they're not just going to conform to what we've always done," she said. "I don't know if that's been coming in normal or post-pandemic kind of mentality, but they definitely have a voice and we need to continue to listen to them and support them in their journey."
To help students gain real-world experience while in their specific pathways, the district partners with more than 275 businesses and organizations across Akron.
This gives high school students access to professionals in their chosen field and an opportunity to enter a job with a skill set above entry-level.