High school students interested in planning for college or a career don’t even have to set foot on a Tidewater Community College campus to get guidance for a path after graduation. Instead, TCC’s team of career coaches comes to students – meeting in special offices inside local high schools.

TCC Career Coach helping studentLed by Karen Campbell, interim associate vice president for recruitment, admission & enrollment, TCC’s four career coaches are based in more than two dozen schools in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.

These coaches operate differently from guidance counselors. They draw from a wealth of industry and college resources to offer a broad scope of postsecondary education options to students.

Students tend to meet with career coaches when they are unsure about what’s next after high school graduation. “Many students haven’t considered the possibilities,” Campbell says. “Our program empowers them to make informed decisions.” Coaches work one-on-one with students to set career goals and create academic road maps.

Coaches field questions about everything from college admission to financial aid possibilities. Ultimately, their goal is to introduce students to the variety of postsecondary education resources available to them – from career certifications to bachelor’s degrees.

Jane Frazier, Norfolk career coach, reiterates the importance of these sessions. “During my meetings with students, we explore their interests, research degree programs and consider transfer and technical degrees that meet their goals. If a student wants information on other colleges, we explore those options, too,” she says.

Additionally, these coaches collaborate with teachers to make sure students understand college expectations and the rigors of postsecondary education. Cheryl Johnson, a career coach in Portsmouth Public Schools, echoes the need for more student advising: “Guidance counselors are often bogged down by other responsibilities,” she says, and collaborating with career coaches can provide additional support.

Students are able to request an appointment with a TCC career coach through their high school’s guidance office. Some schools also have a referral process allowing instructors or counselors to recommend that a student speak with a career coach.

“We guide students to think introspectively about their future,” Frazier says. “We want to help them realize their vision for a successful life.”