Students Grow Through Career Prep Course

  • “This isn’t something that most eighth and ninth graders consider on a daily basis,” MBJH teacher, Matt Howard said.

  • Friday, March 4, 2022 -- Career Prep is preparing for your career. Simple enough, right? Right, but there’s more to it than that. The Career Preparedness course at Mountain Brook Junior High (MBJH) was first introduced in the 2013-14 school year and is designed to prepare students for their future as it pertains to the college admissions process, the path to obtaining a job, potential careers, personal finance and much more.

    The course, divided into two-semester sections (A and B), is a state requirement for high school graduation. Career Prep A equips students with knowledge and skills in the areas of career development, academic planning, and computer skill application. It is a prerequisite for Career Prep B which takes a deeper look into career development, planning for higher education, and financial literacy.

    Matt Howard is in his sixth year teaching at MBJH and said he wishes he had a class like this to take in junior high or high school. Howard’s students in Career Prep B are currently researching five colleges/universities they are interested in attending. The project expands students’ perception of higher education as they research things like intended majors, tuition rates, GPA requirements, distance from home and so many other factors. Students are required to explore both in and out-of-state schools along with public and private institutions to learn about all different options.

    “This isn’t something that most eighth and ninth graders consider on a daily basis,” Howard said. “It’s beneficial for students to be able to see what’s out there and branch out a little bit.”

    “One of the biggest benefits we’ve seen is students get to begin looking at the college process earlier than before,” MBJH Principal Donald Clayton said. “I’m certain that having discussions about applications, calculating GPAs, quality resumes, etc. is very beneficial for students, but also for MBHS as they begin working with families through the process.”

    Karen Svetlay, a College Advisor at Mountain Brook High School, said students have a “significant advantage” the earlier they start to learn about the college process.

    The high school’s 2017 graduating class was the first to complete Career Prep A and B at MBJH. Upon graduation, the class of 2017 was accepted into 17 (13.7%) more colleges/universities than the class of 2016. The high school’s 2021 class was accepted into 31 more colleges/universities than the class of 2017. That’s an increase of 21.9 percent from 2017 to 2021. Every MBS graduating class in the last 6 years has been accepted into more colleges/universities than the class prior.

    Howard added that he enjoys the opportunity for students to explore career paths because too often, students limit themselves. “This (course) is one way for students to learn more about various jobs and positions they could hold using their particular set of skills that they might not have otherwise known about,” Howard said.

    Financial literacy education covers checking and savings accounts, how to write a check, how a bank works, and other important financial information. As our world becomes more and more digital, Howard said it’s still important for students to know the difference between things like a routing number and an account number on a check.

    Much like any other course, students present projects, research ideas, and study materials. However, the material can feel much more personal because students are exploring their own futures.

    “It has the sense of a tailored education which creates more of a desire for students to learn,” Howard said.