Ypsilanti Community Schools held a College and Career Exploration Fair for ninth-grade students at Ypsilanti High School and Washtenaw Community College (WCC). Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Michigan Works! Southeast, WCC, and Ann Arbor SPARK collaborated to plan an engaging event; the day was jam-packed with opportunities for students to explore different in-demand career pathways and interact with local employers and colleges. Students were divided into two groups, spending half the day at the College and Career Fair at Ypsilanti High School and the other half touring WCC.
The students started their day at Washtenaw Community College. They were greeted by WCC student ambassadors, who shared their experiences at the college and answered the ninth graders’ questions. Next, students toured the campus, spending extra time at some of the Career Tech-Ed programs including culinary and auto/collision. The students even had the chance to visit WCC’s 3-d printing laboratory and see some of the projects that WCC students work on in class. The students were excited to see that there are fantastic postsecondary opportunities just down the street!
After they returned from WCC, students networked with employers and colleges at the College and Career Fair. A diverse range of employers attended, including Zingerman’s, United Way of Washtenaw County, DO: BETTER, Growing Hope, Beal Properties, Executive Wealth Management, and AGC Automotive, providing students with a broad outlook on prospective career pathways. In addition, about a dozen local colleges and universities hosted booths to talk to students about postsecondary options at their respective institutions. The students were guided through the booths with the help of a “passport” which included questions they might want to ask the employers and colleges to better understand future opportunities.
In addition to the tour of WCC and the College and Career Fair, the students attended a soft skills presentation from Michigan Works! Southeast and learned about dual enrollment opportunities at WCC. The event was a great success and students left with a stronger sense of their long-term goals after high school.