RMCEP provides college and career advising

27 Oct 2017

Rural students are less likely than their urban counterparts to attend college. This urban vs. rural divide is significant because it influences career choices and eventually impacts earnings.

The 2016 Census showed that those with a college degree earned an average of $65,482 annually, while the average annual wage for those without a high school education was $35,615.

Since 2006, the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (RMCEP) has been working to improve career and college readiness among high school students to address this disparity.

RMCEP works in partnership with Clay, Mahnomen, Wilkin, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, Wadena and Cass Counties, where students are 24.8 percent less likely than their peers to go on to post-secondary education.

Craig Nathan, director of field operations, points out that improving awareness of career and college options is particularly important for low-income students so they have a better chance of breaking the cycle of poverty.

According to Nathan, rural school districts don’t always have career mentorship opportunities or the resources to hire a guidance counselor. Without a dedicated person providing information about colleges and careers, it’s too easy for students to lose direction or make ill-informed decisions.

That’s why RMCEP has embedded career advisors in area schools to complement the work of school counselors and administrators.

RMCEP offers holistic career advising services and assists students in four core areas: career exploration and planning; college selection and job search assistance; financial aid options; and preparation for the National Career Readiness Certificate.

“Advisors help students put together a plan for exiting high school, whether it be for work, military or higher education,” says Nathan.

Services are provided individually and in a group setting. Sophomores begin by taking a career interest assessment. From there, they start to explore career options. As juniors, students start developing a career plan. Seniors and their parents have access to personalized planning to guide them in making important decisions about post-secondary training and employment.

For students who want to attend college immediately after high school, RMCEP career advisors can assist with financial aid and scholarship applications.

Since 50 percent of students don’t go to college right away, knowledge shared about high pay and high demand occupations can be invaluable.

RMCEP also works with area businesses to connect students with training opportunities. These internships and work-based learning experiences are in targeted fields such as manufacturing and healthcare where skilled workers are in demand.

“Preparing youth for the future world of work is a natural element of RMCEP workforce development programs,” says Nathan. “We are proud to be partners with area high schools in this endeavor.”