Students share experiences switching academies and pathways

During registration each year, sophomore students are provided with an opportunity to switch between academies or pathways. Students generally switch pathways because they’ve found career interests outside of their own pathways. However, despite challenges like adjusting to a new environment, students push on with the decision because of their drive to explore their interests.

I initially chose the Academy of Arts & Communication (AAC) because of its focus on creativity and expression. During my time in the academy, I was able to gain exposure to various forms of digital art. However, due to its focus on the digital arts highlighted in the pathways, I was less able to focus on my interest in writing.

On the other hand, what drew me to the Academy of Professional & Public Services (APPS) was its broader range of skills and applications.  Additionally, out of all the academies that I have to choose from, it did not have as much of a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), as those subjects are ones that I do not wish to pursue as a future career. 

However, these are only my experiences and sentiments; there are other transferees who have switched academies or pathways for their own reasons and self-exploration. 

One student who has recently transferred to another academy is junior Mariah Iris Ramo. Ramo moved from the Academy of Health & Sciences’s (AHS) medical biotechnology pathway to APPS’s teaching pathway. Ramo says, “Though I am grateful for the multitude of opportunities that they did present, [AHS] wasn’t the right one for me.” 

Although she was initially discouraged from pursuing teaching because of potential drawbacks associated with the career such as lower pay and a busy workload, the pandemic made her realize that teaching aligns with her interests. “I love being organized, playing a lot of these activities, these events, and most importantly, I like having meaningful connections with others,” Ramo says. “Being a teacher is like it’s a whole playground. You can make it as creative as you want, while still having the intention of helping your students.” 

To those who currently have doubts over their career interests, Ramo advises, “We’re all just trying to figure out ourselves and I’m sure that the majority of us will change our interest over time. And so, even if you don’t know it yet, there’s still some components of self-discovery there because in the process, you’re learning.”

Nerissa Roxas is another junior who has switched academies. She came to AHS’s clinical health pathway from AAC’s graphic design pathway because she “wanted to try out if I was interested more in the health field.”

She thought that it would represent her interests more because “I liked helping people out, but I realized that AHS focuses a lot on science, which is a subject I didn’t really enjoy.” Looking back on the experience, moving to AHS helped Roxas to expand her interests in the health field. 

“To students that are considering transferring academies,” she recommends, “I think it’s important to include if it’s really your interest and not others’ interest because you’re gonna be staying in that career pathway or that field for two years […] So really do it for yourself.” 

Over her many years of experience as a counselor, Academy of Natural Resources (ANR) counselor Tamra Nakai has seen a fair amount of transferees to and from her academy. 

Nakai shares that “we allow students to transfer one time into a different academy, and this is from their 10th grade to their 11th grade year.” 

“In the eighth grade,” she continues, “we ask that you give a two-year commitment to the academy […] The reason why we have this commitment is because we are all model academies through the NCAC [National Career Academy Coalition]. And in order to keep this status, we need to meet certain requirements. One of them is that our students take at least two years in their program of study or pathway.” 

Students commonly transfer because they thought that they would pursue a certain career, but after being exposed to courses for that path or finding their passion in a different job, they may be inclined to change pathways.

Nakai recalls that she had a student from a different academy who wanted to transfer into ANR and “the reason was because when that student chose as an 8th grader, she wanted to be in a certain career, but then realized that her passion really fell in line with the Academy of  Natural Resources.”

One challenge that Nakai has observed is that students sometimes regret their decision to transfer. Furthermore, she adds that another challenge is that “students sometimes don’t realize that they have to change completely […] All their teachers, their counselor, and their administrator, have to be switched.” 

Regarding transferees and counselors, she firmly states, “We’re not about holding students back. We want students to be where they want to be, and that is why we allow the academy change.”

Overall, finding one’s passions and happiness in their pursuits is a lifetime journey; high school is merely one step towards that direction. Whether it be going with your gut or discovering what you love, switching between academies remains a viable option for those interested in new ventures and self-exploration.