It’s never too early to start looking at your future. That’s the lesson 7th and 8th grade students are learning at Bellbrook Middle School.
In the past two years, students have begun to take a look at what life might be like after high school through a program with the Greene County Educational Service Center (ESC).
“The kids take a field trip to the career center when they are in eighth grade, but that’s two years before they can go and take classes there,” Middle School principal Jenna Hill said. “But it’s never too early to start thinking about post-high school life.”
The ESC received a grant to provide each district in the county with two grade levels of access to the website known as Pathful Explore.
With access to the website, students are able to find what are called career clusters, or careers that could be related to one another in some way. For example, law and safety, education and training or health and science.
For that, students take an 85-question survey to determine their interests. The survey suggests five career choices and students can choose several others if the survey didn’t quite give them something they liked.
From there, students can explore career paths by watching videos detailing those selections via job shadowing and watching question-and-answer videos also related to their interests.
According to Amy Baldridge with the Greene County ESC, the program has more than 650 videos in its robust offerings.
The opening process takes two days of social studies time for seventh graders. It gets more intense for eighth graders.
They take the time to go over their careers from the year prior and go more in-depth. That plunge takes place during Family and Consumer Science classes when students will set their finances and simulate what financial planning would look like in that career field.
Baldridge also stated the program provides several different entry levels. If students want to check out HVAC for example, they can find out what it would look like for them if they have no college education, two years, or four.
The same is true for other career fields. She also said the website offered to go through this program, Pathful Explore, was picked by students because it was more focused on their age range than some others that seemed to be more adult-focused. The program has done so well in the district in the early going, there are some opportunities to expand it to the high school for students who didn’t have the opportunity to participate in 7th and 8th grade.
“Each district got to choose how to best use this program,” Baldridge said. “It has worked well for Bellbrook and they are interested in filling some of the extra seats from districts that chose not to use the program. It has been well received.”