Last updated: November 02. 2013 7:49PM - 692 Views
By - egodin@timesleader.com

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The price tag for a four-year college education can make both parent and student may experience hyperventilate from sticker shock, but Dallas High School has included a new curriculum component this year to help students develop a career path.

Starting this year, all Dallas High School freshmen are required to take a Career Consumer Science course which will kick off the start of their four-year completion project.

The course will focus on developing career awareness for one quarter and personal finance the second quarter, said Nicole Darling, MS, career mentoring coordinator.

Designed to give students time to explore different careers and the educational requirements behind them, the program will include a combination of research, essays, presentations and job shadowing.

“Each student will be assigned an advisor who will work with them throughout the completion project,” she said.

This early career exploration is a key component to stream-line the college experience or to determine if a trade school would be better fitting for the student, Darling said.

Developing a career path early could cut down on the expense of the college experience. Darling said 18 percent of college freshman list their major as undeclared and 50 percent of students take six years to finish a four-year degree.

This, combined with the fact that public college tuition has risen faster than the rate of inflation, a better insight into careers and educational opportunities is invaluable. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2000-2001 and 2010-2011, prices for undergraduate tuition and living expenses at public institutions rose 42 percent.

Some students may find a trade school or technical training is a better route for what they want to achieve, Darling said.

“Others may opt for a four-year degre,e depending on the career choice,” she said.

The job shadowing aspect gives students real-life experience in the profession of their choice.

“We did a pilot last April,” Darling said. “We had some students go to John Heinz, another with a neurosurgery physician’s assistant with Gesinger. It was very successful but it was too late in the school year to build it into the curriculum.”

Senior Emma Niznik, of Wyoming, was given the opportunity to shadow Mark Lacey, a neurosurgery physician’s assistant at Geisinger Medical Center in Plains Township, over the summer.

“It was just one day,” Niznik said.

Her day on the job ran from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. where she observed Lacey with patients and had a chance to ask questions.

“It gave me a good feeling on what it is all about,” she said. “It was really cool.”

The experience gave Nizink the foundation to build her career. She plans to attend Rutgers to become a neurosurgery physician’s assistant.

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