Students get a jump-start on career-focused degrees

degree-studentsNine Oahu public high school seniors will be attending Leeward Community College full time this fall — and leaving their high school lives behind — as part of a pilot program that helps give students a jump-start on career-focused degrees.

The students will be the second group of seniors participating in the Jump Start program at Leeward Community College, a joint pilot project between the state Department of Education and the University of Hawaii’s community colleges.

The students will spend their senior year taking all of their classes at Leeward for credit toward an associate’s degree in a so-called career and technical education program of their choice, while satisfying high school graduation requirements. (The students can opt to participate in extracurricular activities back at their schools, such as sports and prom, as well as graduation.)

Participating public high schools select students to enroll in the program, and cover the cost of tuition and fees for the first semester, while UH pays for their textbooks. This year’s Jump Start seniors are from Waianae, Farrington, Campbell, Pearl City, Kapolei, Kaimuki and McKinley high schools.

“The main objective of Jump Start is to provide an opportunity for a high school student to get a head start on their career path,” said Ron Umehira, dean of Career and Technical Education at LCC. “Some students are interested in occupations that their high school isn’t able to introduce or satisfy because the focus there is on general education and preparing students for college.”

He added, “A lot of students have interest in areas like television production, automotive, culinary arts, digital media, health information technology. They want to start learning right away. If they complete their first year while they’re in high school, they just need to return for one more year to get a degree that will provide the knowledge and skills to get started in an entry-level job.”

(Next page: What students are saying)

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