At a Glance
Through the TechLink Consortium, which is managed through Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), Program of Study Outreach staff conduct “SOAR Road Shows” at TechLink Consortium schools at their request. The POS Outreach staff also provides information sessions within HACC to key personnel such as Admissions, Advisors, and Welcome Center Staff to increase awareness of the SOAR program so that they can prompt matriculating students who might be eligible for the SOAR credits.
This best practice profiles highlights a partnership between Harrisburg Area Community College and TechLink to engage and enroll students in the SOAR program. TechLink is a consortium of career & technical high schools in South Central PA. Together, they seek to advance Career and Technical Education through education, advocacy, public awareness, and building connections between secondary and post-secondary institutions through programs such as SOAR. In addition, the TechLink consortium seeks to provide opportunities for administrative staff and teachers within the region to collaborate, provide in-service opportunities to maintain and continue professional development, and to coordinate data gathering in the region. The schools that make up the TechLink consortium are Adams County Technical Institute, Carlisle Center for Careers & Technology (Carlisle High School), Cumberland Perry Area Career & Technical Center, Dauphin County Technical School, Dover Academy of Careers & Technology, Lancaster County Career & Technology Center, Lebanon County Career & Technology Center, and York County School of Technology.
HACC implemented SOAR Road Shows shortly after the SOAR programs were launched. The SOAR Road Shows require HACC staff travel to the career and technology centers (CTCs) for the information sessions, and the TechLink partners coordinate the schedules on their end for the format (classroom use, technology needs, length of presentation, etc.) The HACC staff prepare a power point presentation and intersperse questions throughout with chances to win gift cards based on participation. Initially, most TechLink partners opted in every year, and then the partners more sporadically offered the sessions with the expectation that the CTC counselors and program teachers were sharing the necessary SOAR information.
While the CTCs desired the Road Show presentations, at times it was difficult to find the “optimum” time to offer the sessions. Additionally, they questioned at what grade it is best to have the discussions about SOAR. Since each CTC delivers their curriculum differently (comprehensive 4-year, 1/2 day 3-year, senior year only), they all tried different things. DCTS started offering the Road Show sessions to their junior year students when the seniors were taking the NOCTI exams. This seemed to work well and appeared to be a “win” for everyone.
The travel costs were covered by HACC through their Perkins funding. The incentive gift card costs were covered out of petty cash funds at any of the participating schools during a given year. The TechLink Consortium plans to reinstitute the Road Shows for AY 22/23, especially with HACC reopening this month (May 2022). HACC expects that they will make the presentation more appealing with video clips and Kahoot! quizzes to better engage the students.
The whole purpose of the SOAR Programs of Study program is to allow for secondary students who opt to pursue the same program pathway at the post-secondary level to do so seamlessly and with time and money savings. The goal was and remains to be to afford as many students as possible that opportunity. There has been a lot of time and effort spent by everyone with unfortunately little return. HACC’s matriculation numbers for students utilizing the SOAR credits remain low, but we will continue to do what we can to try to improve the numbers with the remaining SOAR agreements that PDE has approved. The practice of increasing SOAR Program of Study awareness needs to be a priority, or else nothing will change. HACC is committed to the planning and scheduling needed to increase SOAR students now and in the future.
Harrisburg Area Community College
Lisa DeLorenzo, Director of High School Programs