Center helps students navigate future
Since her freshman year at Eudora High School, senior Mary Cox hasn't been a stranger to the school's career center.
"When I started high school, I wasn't the kind of person who knew what I wanted to do or where exactly I wanted to go," she said.
With less than four months before graduation, she's still waiting to make a final decision on which college to attend.
In the meantime, she uses the center to keep tabs on college and scholarship information.
"They're always giving steps and advice of where to go," she said.
That's because the word 'career' takes on multiple meanings for counselor Paul Walrod.
To him, the center's function goes beyond students' chosen professions or colleges ---- it encompasses their entire high school experience.
"I feel the career center's goal is to meet the needs of the students whether they're just starting or they're almost done," Walrod said.
The center's staff provides students with a wealth of information ranging from scholarship information to personality tests and, if needed, a listening ear.
"I like to think the career center is for their use to help keep students healthy at school," Walrod said.
Walrod helps guide students individually in their path to college.
The work starts long before a student's senior year, for both Walrod and career center coordinator and registrar Brenda Wiley.
Wiley helps schedule college visits, send transcripts and provide a presence in the center.
If a student is uncertain of posts-graduation plans, the center offers an online program called Choices Planner. The program helps them decide which college or fields of study might be right for them.
A supplement program called Do What You Are, further refines a student's career interests, Walrod said.
Eudora High School senior Charles Mersmann said he used the programs
"It didn't help me decide to go to one specific job or school, but it did give me an idea of what I'm interested in, where I didn't know before," Mersmann said.
The center also offers underclassmen an opportunity to prepare for standardized tests like the ACT or SAT.
For those taking the test, Walrod leads a four-week series of study sessions leading up to the testing dates at the high school.
When the college search ramps up in the final years of high school, the center has prepared material available.
Walrod interviews students in as juniors to gauge their college plans at that time. Once a semester he sends juniors a newsletter with college visit dates and general scholarship information.
During their senior year, Walrod meets with students twice more to answer questions regarding their place within the senior class and to set up a timeline for applying to schools. During their senior year, he sends newsletters out every three to four weeks.
At all times, the career center offers students a running database of scholarships, both local and national. It also houses a library of promotional materials from colleges across the country.
In addition to information on colleges, the career center helps underclassmen learn about leadership seminars or camps in areas that correspond to their interests.
Cox attended one such camp at Washburn University. Now the school is on her list of possible colleges.
"I wouldn't have even considered Washburn if it weren't for the career center," Cox said.
With scholarship deadlines approaching, Walrod said he has seen the stress the season can cause.
"The first thing I try to do is remind the student of the timeline they still do have," Walrod said.
He next advises students on what they personally need to do to fill out the scholarships. At the same time, either he or Wiley work to fill out the school's paperwork, such as procuring letters of recommendation or sending off transcripts, he said.
The career center also provides employment information for students not considering college. The career center receives offers from companies such as UPS, or has options available for students taking classes at the Eudora/De Soto Technical-Education Center.
Mersmann used the help he received at the center to apply for and eventually become a finalist in a scholarship contest at Wichita State University.
Cox recommends the career center to her friends, she said. In particular, she advocates the opportunity to prepare for the ACT and SAT tests.
"I want my friends to do well, so I tell them about it," Cox said.