Oakland High freshmen select their pathways for next year
by Selim Jones
Oakland High School offers five specialized College and Career Pathways (also sometimes called academies) that prepare students for success in college, career, and community in a specific field. On Jan. 31, the pathway fair will be held, giving ninth-grade students a chance to learn more about the pathways, one of which they will spend the majority of their high school career in.
Even though students begin taking “pathway classes” at the start of tenth grade, the decision for which pathway to enter is made about halfway through the ninth-grade year. This leads to many students feeling anxious since many of them aren’t entirely sure what they want to do with their lives.
¨I am aware that it can be difficult for ninth-graders to know exactly what they want to do or study after high school,” said Tiffany Holliday, Oakland High’s pathway coach, “but I would encourage students to think about what some of their options might be and then select a pathway that most closely aligns with their interests right now.”
All 19 high schools in OUSD offer pathways, although they differ from school to school. There are 13 separate pathways offered throughout OUSD, according to OUSD’s website.
“The process of joining a pathway is a little scary,” said ninth-grader Kayahnna Jackson. “Because I know it’ll affect the rest of my high school years.”
This is a common fear among ninth-graders, having to make a decision that will have an important, lasting impact on their life. For students whose career goals align closely with one of the pathways, the process of choosing is much less stressful.
Even if a student does know what pathway they want to enter, Holliday warns that they’re not guaranteed to get their top choice.
“It is unfortunate that not every student gets their number one pathway choice during the selection and placement process, but it is important to Oakland High that our pathway classes are equitably balanced across many demographics so that each pathway reflects the demographics of the overall school,” she said. “The majority of students do get their first or second choice. Less than 6% (about 25-30 students total) get their third choice.”
While all this seems to show an unflattering picture of the pathway process, Randy Saechao says it’s all worth it.
“The pathways are very good,” said Saechao, a tenth-grader in ESA (Environmental Science Academy). “They let you focus on things you like and will actually need.”