College Fair

As our district continues to focus on preparing students for life after high school, students are being presented with more ways to explore options and learn vital life skills. Whether students are looking to start a job right after high school, go to a technical/community college, or attend a university, we have courses and experiences that will help prepare them for their journey!

GFW Public Schools believes “career and college ready” means a student has the knowledge, skills, and competencies to successfully pursue a degree, diploma, certificate, or industry recognized credential and employment. Students who are career and college ready are able to successfully transition directly to post high school employment or complete post-secondary coursework.

Ms. Staci Wood, GFW’s Dean of Students and Academic Advisor, oversees the robust scholarship program that gives students access to a variety of local, regional, and national scholarships to help with their higher education plans. She also organized two college and career readiness opportunities for our students in October and is planning more opportunities in the spring. Juniors and seniors attended the Minnesota Education Fair at MSU in Mankato and had access to over 80 colleges and universities in one place. They were able to engage with, ask questions and learn more about the universities and colleges that were in attendance.

“I feel that the field trip was useful as I found a few technical schools that had programs and classes that I found pretty interesting,” said Junior Riley Peterson. “Even when I went to booths of schools that didn't have what I was looking for, they referred me to other booths that offered what I was interested in.” 

Students in tenth grade also attended Ridgewater’s Ignite Your Future event which was an interactive opportunity featuring over 70 hands-on career exploration activities offered by dozens of industry partners and community agencies. They had a great time exploring a variety of options including veterinary medicine, painting through virtual reality, and video and audio recording. 

“I feel it's important to expose our students to college and career readiness events to ensure students feel prepared for college, careers, and throughout their lives,” said Ms. Wood. These experiences enrich the lives of our students and assist them in making difficult decisions such as which career field they want to pursue, what colleges and universities they should apply to that offer their major, additional information regarding scholarships, financial aid, and more.”The trips and other activities are designed to complement programming through the three Academies launched in recent years at GFW Middle School and High School. Using the Minnesota Department of Education’s Career and College Readiness Framework, GFW has created academics: AEM (Agriculture, Engineering & Manufacturing), BACE (Business, Art, Communication & Entrepreneurship), and HSHS (Health Sciences & Human Services). 

Each academy has a variety of career pathways to help identify courses that could best prepare students for their future careers. GFW is offering many new elective courses as well as college credit options and industry certifications. The academies are designed to help focus the electives students participate in to become career and college ready.

In early 2024, students will be able to participate in career and college fairs that are hosted right in the school, bringing local and regional businesses and higher education opportunities directly to them as part of the school day. There will also be an opportunity for parents and students to learn about the FAFSA process and how to fill out applications for scholarships and financial aid. 

“Students are able to participate in classes that are in their areas of interest, but can also try things outside of their comfort zone to access for free in high school instead of waiting until college,” said Principal Erin Jacobson. “Being able to learn real-life skills and to be immersed in what opportunities are available is such an important asset for our students.”