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Column: College and career readiness at Worthington High School

By Lorna Kruger and Dan Schnelle, District 518

WORTHINGTON — Students connect learning to careers at Worthington High School. All students are required to create a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) that connects their high school selection of courses and activities to a plan that will help them be college- or career-ready by graduation. The process starts with the requirement that all ninth-grade students take the Freshman Career Seminar class in which they gain an understanding of the huge variety of occupations, their own interests and abilities as they relate to work, and how they will need to prepare to enter into specific occupations.  

Through projects and activities, students can discover how their career fits with their other life choices. The class starts with students logging into the Minnesota Career Information System (MCIS), where they take the first of five interest and aptitude assessments they will complete during the course. Each assessment helps students learn how their personal interests, skills and abilities relate to the demands of various occupations.  

The course also helps students learn about local businesses. Each quarter, speakers from local businesses visit the Careers class to inform students about the opportunities their business offers and the types of skills they are looking for in their employees. The class also takes students on tours of local businesses so they can experience firsthand the sights and sounds of working there. This opportunity gives the students a mature look at real jobs and a connection to the employment opportunities that are available in Worthington.

Throughout the Careers course, students research occupations in depth. They learn about what workers do on the job, what skills are necessary and how they can gain those skills. They also learn about typical wages paid for their occupations of interest. Time is spent on learning about the ways students can achieve the skills necessary for being hired. They learn about the variety of career-related educational opportunities available to them such as college, trade school, apprenticeship and military options. They learn about how to get admitted to these programs, the costs of attendance, length of program and benefits of each type of career preparation.  Students explore how on the job training and part-time jobs can help them gain skills and experience that will assist them in making their career choices.

Once students have completed their research, they make a presentation on their selected occupation to their classmates to teach them about that occupation.

Students also complete a job search simulation that includes writing a resume with a cover letter, completing job application forms and practicing job interviews.  

Although the Personal Learning Plan is created during the Careers class, students continue to revise and adjust their plan throughout high school. The plan includes the classes they need to take and activities they need to complete during high school to not only meet graduation requirements, but to also meet college or job entrance requirements. To ensure that all students have the time and assistance to update and revise their plans to keep them personally relevant, students are assisted by their homeroom advisors with completing activities that keep their plans current throughout high school. The goal is that all WHS students graduate with a clear plan for their next step in life and ready to be successful in that step.

Lorna Kruger is careers instructor and Dan Schnelle a counselor at Worthington High School.