New Partnership In North Louisiana to Increase College Enrollments and Completion

New Partnership In North Louisiana to Increase College Enrollments and Completion

Career Compass of Louisiana, a nonprofit organization, is partnering with Booker T. Washington (BTW) New Technology High School in Caddo Parish and two regional post-secondary institutions to pilot a new, comprehensive post-secondary access and success initiative, the first of its kind in North Louisiana.

IN THE NEWS: Group Helps Students Apply to College

IN THE NEWS: Group Helps Students Apply to College

Leigh Guidry, education reporter for The Town Talk, wrote a piece about Career Compass and its work in Central Louisiana. Check out the full article at: http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/news/education/2016/02/03/group-helps-more-students-apply-college/79350746/.

Partnership for College and Career Coaching

Partnership for College and Career Coaching

Working with Career Compass,  Northwest Louisiana Technical College (NWLTC) and Webster Parish Schools have entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement to provide all high school seniors in Webster Parish with college and career coaching services at no cost to the students or their families. 

Career Compass Annual Report

Career Compass Annual Report

Career Compass of LA is Louisiana’s nonprofit authority on college and career access. Download a copy of our 2014 Annual Report here.

3 Paths for High School Seniors to Consider This Summer

3 Paths for High School Seniors to Consider This Summer

Soon-to-be high school seniors should research postsecondary options this summer, if they haven't already.

Students who haven't already visited colleges they are interested in should make it a priority to do so this summer, says one counselor.

By Alexandra PannoniJune 1, 2015 | 8:00 a.m. EDT+ More

Teens who have reached the end of junior year and don't know what they want to do after high schoolshouldn't panic. 

"We have plenty who know exactly what they want to do and then we have plenty who are walking around here like, 'I have no idea,'" says Steve Schneider, a school counselor at Sheboygan South High School in Wisconsin.

But rising seniors unsure about their future have work to do this summer. 

Students who have no idea what they want to do after high school need to spend some time in self-reflection, thinking critically about what they care about and their passions before they start considering what path they will take, says Schneider.

One way they could do this is by trying to get a summer job in a field they think they might be interested in, he says. 

The Web offers many free resources for students to explore different careers, says Karen Rubican, a school counselor at Canon-McMillan High School in Canonsburg, PennsylvaniaO*Net Online, for example, offers information on hundreds of jobs and is sponsored by the federal government. 

She says the career should dictate a student's next steps. Once a student knows what kind of education is required, the educational options become more apparent. 

If a student knows what career they have in mind, they should use this summer to explore and research postsecondary options, she says. 

Rising seniors slow to start making plans for life after high school should pay attention to the following advice about what to do this summer to prepare for each path. 

[Follow this timeline of key steps for completing college applications.]

• Attend a community college or four-year institution: Soon-to-be seniors who want to continue their education in college hould visit the schools they are interested in this summer, says Schneider.

"The application process is going to begin fairly quickly when they come back from summer vacation so that's a must, I think, if they haven't taken the time to do it," he says. "Because you can ask all kinds of questions when you are there visiting as well. If you are really serious about that, that's a serious activity that needs to be done."

Those who can't get to the school in person could research school online, he says.

• Learn a trade: Students considering learning a particular trade, like weldin or carpentry, should also explore firsthan the options that are available, says Rubican.

At a local trade school in her community, students have the opportunity to sit in on an actual class, like cosmetology, to see what it's like, she says. "It definitely has increased student understanding of what those opportunities look like."

[Learn about how a gap year can make a student successful.]

• Join the military: Students thinking about joining the armed forces should contact a recruiter to learn more about this path, says Schenider. Then students have time to carefully consider whether it's for them.

In Schenider's community, students who aren't 18 yet can participate in a boot camp like experience to get a taste of what joining the military will be like. 

Regardless of the postsecondary path rising seniors are considering, they should use the time they have this summer wisely.

Whether it's a technical college, four year college, community college or a certain job, students have two months of time – that they presumably have some flexibility with – to nurture hat kernel of an idea, he says.

"If they have an idea that they just haven't really fleshed out yet, they should go with that idea in the summer," he says. 

Have something of interest to share? Send your news to us at highschoolnotes@usnews.com.

3 Facts to Know About the New Student Loan Interest Rates

3 Facts to Know About the New Student Loan Interest Rates

The 2015-2016 federal student loan interest rates don't apply retroactively to debt borrowed in previous years.

Here's the good news: New federal student loans are cheaper this year. The 2015-2016 federal student loan interest rates take effect July 1 and are more than one-third of a percentage point cheaper than last year's rates.

"This is something that's going to continue to happen and it's going to fluctuate with the market," says Jan Miller, president of Miller Student Loan Consulting, about the change in federal interest rates. 

[Take these steps to understand student loan interest rates.]

Interest rates are currently pegged to the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, with a set percentage added on. That "add-on" is smaller for undergraduate debt than for graduate and parent loans, meaning that college students typically get the cheapest deal on federal loans.

Below are the student loan interest rates for the 2015-2016 school year. This rate change does not apply to federal Perkins loans, which carry a 5 percent interest rate, and have an uncertain future.

Here's what to know about the effect the new rates will have on borrowers' bank accounts.

1. They will save borrowers money in the long run. How much a borrower saves with this year's lower rates depends on the type of federal loan they borrow, the amount of debt and length of repayment.

A first-year student taking on $5,500 in unsubsidized Stafford loans, which don't have interest covered in school, will pay about $117 less in interest over the standard 10-year repayment plan than they would have under the previous rates, according to a student loan repayment calculator.

A graduate student taking on $20,500 in unsubsidized debt will save about $457 over the same plan. A parent borrowing $30,000 in PLUS debt can expect to pay about $687 less over a 10-year repayment plan than if they had borrowed those loans the past year.

2. They don't apply to old loans. Borrowers who took on loans in previous years won't see these rates apply to their old debt.

Borrowers with older federal loans who want to tweak their rates can consider consolidating, which combines multiple loans into a single payment and averages their interest rates. They can also look into refinancing through a private lender, which typically recalculate a new rate based on the borrowers'financial health, among other factors.

[Know the risks and rewards of private student loan refinancing.]

3. They don't apply to private loans. While private loan rates may also fluctuate with the market, those lenders typically determine their rates differently. They may factor a borrower's credit history, ability to repay and other information into the rate calculation.

[Ask these 10 questions before borrowing a private student loan.]

Private loan borrowers may have a chance to choose a fixed-rate private loan, which keeps interest consistent during repayment, or opt for a variable rate, which moves with the market. 

The takeaway: While the change in federal rates are worth noting, its effect is limited. "For your average borrower, with around $33,000 in debt, it's fairly insignificant," says Miller. 

Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College.