College bound or other plans, school has services to offer


Mr. McLouth of the Career Center has teamed up with a college admissions representative to create a podcast series on the college search process. Find it by searching University You Podcast.

In the last 20 years, attending a college after high graduation has become embedded in American culture. According to The Statistics Portal, about 20 million students were enrolled in either a private or public colleges in 2015 – a figure that has increased around 240 percent since 1965. Although college is not the path for everyone, it is the one that many high school students choose. Preparations for college are a major part of students’ junior and senior years, and high schools are taking this into account by creating programs specifically designed to help students with applying to colleges.

Applying to college is a process that includes completing a Common Application (an admission form that allows students to apply to any of the 700 colleges involved with the program), writing college admissions essays, sending in high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores, and getting teacher recommendtions. The process often becomes an ordeal, and can be quite difficult for high schoolers to complete without guidance. Jake McLouth, the Career Center director, helps students in making these college decisions.

“In September through November, I bring in more than 115 college admission representatives to speak with Pioneer students,” said McLouth. “I work with students a lot on putting together their college list, completing essays, and other college application tasks.”

Nearly every student qualifies for some form of financial aid. McLouth introduces students to scholarship money or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a form that determines eligibility for student federal aid.

“I answer a lot of questions regarding FAFSA and other financial aid topics,” he said. “Scholarship money goes unclaimed every year and my goal is to help students find as much money as possible so they can graduate college with as little debt as possible.”

Arianna Shaw, a Pioneer senior, says the Career Center is a useful resource.

“Mr. McLouth helped me go over good things to highlight in my application. I also checked out a brand new SAT prep book there,” she said. “Counseling is overloaded with work, so if [students] can, they should just go to Mr. McLouth to get help.”

Students can also meet McLouth in the Career Center even if they are unsure about whether they will be attending college.

“Students can meet with me for a one-on-one exploration and advising session to give them some more direction,” he said. “If a student is actively exploring possible career fields while in high school, I feel confident they will find what is right for them in college or a job training program, whichever path they follow.”

While Pioneer’s college preparatory support is concentrated in the Career Center and many students say that it is a useful resource, they would like to see the school go even further in coll e g e preparation.

“I do feel like t h e r e are resources to prep for the SAT, but I wish Pioneer s o m e how offered a class on college prep,” said Shaw. “They do an okay job if kids pay attention and put in effort, but they can always make it easier.”

McLouth sees the guidance that the Career Center provides as a support program that students may not have access to otherwise.

“I have the flexibility in my week to be able to hold 20 college visits and also sit down with a student and give essay feedback,” he said. “It is nice to have another resource in the building where students can go to with all of the questions they have that are not specifically academic questions, but bigger picture, like what are they going to do after high school and how are they going to get there.”