Metro Career Academy offers college experience and credits for high school students

Emma Gage, Reporter

Bellevue West offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to get a glimpse into what college courses are like while earning both high school and college credit through the Metro Career Academy.

Counselor Melissa Minahan works with students who are interested in taking these courses through Metropolitan Community College.

“The Metro Career Academy courses are courses that relate to a career area and allow a student to earn both high school and college credit,” Minahan said in an email. “Students are typically working toward a certification or an associates degree in a specific career area.”

Senior Kalynn Ripley has an interest in the criminal justice system and decided to explore it through the Career Academy.

“I really wanted to take [classes] because I thought it would help me if I did want to do something in the criminal justice field,” Ripley said. “ I could get a head start and hopefully get a feel for what things might be like when I actually start taking college courses. I just was hoping it would give me a better feel for what the criminal justice system is about.”

Junior Nick Riha is studying at metro in order to prepare for a career working with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

“My brother took classes there and I decided to take them too since it’s a good opportunity to develop and gain experience about what I want to do when I graduate,” Riha said in an email.

Students who want to be in the Metro Career Academy must be a junior or senior and has to be on track to graduate. Once a student meets that criteria along with other course specific requirements, their schedule will be adjusted so that they leave after fourth hour and begin metro classes at 1 p.m.

Students are also monitored while enrolled in their courses in order to ensure that they are able to succeed.

“Good attendance, homework completion, and study skills are essential for success in this program,” Minahan said. “Students may be dropped from a program based on attendance or failure to pass a class.”

Students earn pass/fail credits through the Metro Career Academy. Students get two credits each semester for Bellevue West and earn a letter grade transcript through Metro.

Students are able to transfer credits to other universities. Ripley plans to do so after spending two years at Metro.

Riha has found that his courses differ from his Bellevue West classes mainly because they allow him to directly prepare for his future career.

“I have more freedom and I am always doing hands on work that contains things I will be doing as my profession after high school,” Riha said.

Ripley said that her Career Academy classes have forced her to develop more independence with school work.

“They’re definitely a lot different because everything is on your own,” Ripley said. “You’re required to take notes on your own and make sure you pay attention on your own; there’s not a teacher sitting there making sure you pay attention.”

Ripley also believes that the course work at metro is more difficult.

“It’s not like they give you study guides like they give you here,” Ripley said. “It could be anywhere from the four chapters because every test we take is from four chapters so it can be anything learned, heard, or saw.”

Despite the challenging coursework, Minahan believes that many students can benefit from the Career Academy.

“There are many juniors and seniors who are ready to begin a transition to college, and because they are studying areas of interest, they are more invested in the opportunity to take college classes relating to their future,” Minahan said.

There are a few Career Academy classes that offer a two-year option so that students may start a course junior year and finish it senior year. At the end of senior year, students in these classes often have already obtained certifications, or are only a few more classes away from having them or even their associates degree.

“I will have my associates degree in less than a year after i graduate high school which makes it easier to find a job in this field and I can work in the trade while going to classes to gain more experience and hands on work,” Riha said. “ I knew it would help my future and figure out my career as well as the responsibilities that come with being in HVAC.”

Ripley recommends taking courses in the Metro Career Academy even if you aren’t sure about what you want to do as a career.

“I think it’s a good learning experience and a way to get a taste of what college will actually be like,” Ripley said. “If you’re just interested in something it might open your eyes to more career paths.