Students Strive to Reach Career and Collegiate Goals

Isabella Wartzenluft, Editor

On February 25th, Arrowhead High School introduced academic and career planning. Twenty five schools in Wisconsin, labelled as pilot schools, were chosen to participate in this activity.

A law, beginning in 2017, states that all schools must have individualized planning for students–and academic and career planning is just the start.

Brianne Mehlos, counselor at South campus, says, “We have a lot of pieces in place. We have our freshman conferences, in classes teachers talk about things, but we don’t have a really systematic way of making sure that everybody has the same level of instruction and their own individualized plan. When we talked to kids, we were doing some different surveys that we did earlier in the year, about what kids want to see, what kids want help with. We got a lot of feedback, kids want more opportunities to try things with the real world like job shadows or internships, but they also need help figuring out what they might be good at and what would be a good option with their skills and interests. We are looking at how to incorporate more of those for all students, not just those who seek that help.”

Just as Arrowhead teaches core classes such as mathematics and social studies, the school is transitioning into teaching academic and career planning as well. Freshman and junior conferences have been taking place for years, but many students do not go out of their way to get additional help when it comes to their futures.

Mehlos says, “The biggest problem has been, not that we don’t have a lot of resources, but getting kids to know what resources we have. So that is where we need help from parents, community members, teachers, to have these kind of conversations to help kids really reflect on ‘what am I doing here’ and ‘what is this leading me to’ because you can randomly take classes as you go through and end up where you end up and some people do just fine with that and I might work. But we want to make sure that we are doing as much as we can to help.”

To begin to plan ahead, students are welcome to communicate with teachers as well as school counselors. Friends, parents, and relatives may also be helpful in learning to plan ahead.

“When you think about it, it’s not just your counselor that you’re talking to, it’s not just your teacher, you’re talking to your friends, your brothers and sisters, parents, maybe people in the community, anybody can be a part of helping and mentoring kids as they go through. We are looking at how do we set it up so that we have more of these conversations happening and helping kids have access to that,” says Mehlos.

Preceding the academic and career planning lessons, students were asked to list activities that they could be doing now that would probably help explore options for life after high school. After the lesson, students were asked the same question, but were expected to list additional activities that they had not previously mentioned. As a result, 89% of students increased their prior knowledge, and it increased by an average of two items.

According to Mehlos, the key to planning your future begins with knowing yourself, discovering your skills and interests, and learning how to write a goal that is achievable and realistic.

For students who plan to attend college, a college visit as well as looking at the admissions requirements are a good place to start. Students who do not wish to attend college may begin to job shadow as well as discover what their interests are in order to determine what field to one day work in. In either case, taking classes at Arrowhead that may coincide with future plans can be an implemented plan whether or not further schooling is an option.

It [academic and career planning] came out of Arrowhead wanting to be sure that we are doing everything we can to help students be prepared for not only having the best experience while they’re in Arrowhead and going through high school, but being ready for what comes next. We noticed that kids have a lot of anxiety sometimes in terms of what’s next and what to even do to get started and what things might be important. So part of the vision of Arrowhead High School is preparing our students to be successful, lifelong citizens. So just as we teach other areas, we want to teach about academic and career planning,” says Mehlos.