RMCEP Career Advisors Provide Students with Needed Guidance

1 Jan 2018

According to a 2016 study by the Education Trust, nearly half of graduating high school students across the nation aren’t prepared for college or the workplace.

This means an alarming number of new college students have to take remedial classes to catch up to their classmates. And employers report that high school graduates lack basic workforce skills.

A key recommendation from the report is for school leaders to shift their focus to view graduation not as a culmination but as a starting point for a successful life ahead. Since 2006, the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (RMCEP) has been working to proactively remedy this problem.

RMCEP has nine rural career advisors working in 24 schools in our service area, which reaches up to 6000 students each year. They provide assistance and tools to help students not only explore career and college options, but also determine a path for the future.

These career advisors provide needed support to existing school counselors and administrators. Minnesota has the second worst student to counselor ratio in the country — 681 to 1. The national average is 491:1 but the American School Counselor Association recommends a student to counselor ratio of 250:1

“In some districts, students have the opportunity to take a required or elective careers class and if they are lucky, they get a few minutes of their over-extended counselor’s time to discuss their future,” explains Kari Anderson, career advisor specialist with RMCEP. “But students’ needs are not being adequately addressed in this manner. Career guidance, exploration, planning and preparation are developmental and ongoing. Many districts do not have the resources to do this process justice.”

Since each school is different, RMCEP’s career advisors tailor a specific plan to complement any existing curriculum and fit the needs of each individual school. Advisors work both in classrooms and one-on-one with students.

Students greatly benefit from time with career advisors. Take the example of Avyan, who was born in Iraq and emigrated with her family when she was 2 years old. A hardworking senior in the top 5 percent of her class, Avyan’s goal is to be the first in her family to attend college. She intends to find a job where she can help others.

Before meeting with her RMCEP career advisor, Debbie Grant, Avyan was considering becoming a doctor. But she hadn’t begun to explore the full range of health care careers or determine a practical plan for the future. She was riddled with anxiety and unsure about how to best set and attain goals.

Grant helped put Avyan at ease. They started by assessing her interests and personality to hone in on an appropriate career path. Since Avyan needs financial help to attend college, the advisor also helped her complete the FAFSA and identify scholarship opportunities. They’ve even discussed test-taking strategies to improve her ACT score.

Such one-on-one attention and guidance can make a tremendous difference for students like Avyan who otherwise may have fallen through the cracks. “Students are often limited in their understanding of the many career, educational, training and financial options available to them. And compounding this issue is that every student varies in the level of support that they need,” says Anderson

Grant says Avyan has a great deal of potential and passion. “I have just started working with Avyan, we have only met three times, but I’m so looking forward to continuing working with this amazing young lady that wants to make a difference in the world.”