By Caroline Thompson –
The Career Academy, also known as TCA, is an academic program offered by Lincoln Public Schools that allows juniors and seniors to take dual credit courses, and provides an opportunity to have a hands-on experience in one of the provided pathways. Southeast junior Ben Friend, describes a pathway as “a set of classes that help you go into that specific field of study.”
Career Academy Director/Coordinator Dr. Dan Hohensee explained the program. “We have  distinct pathways but within some pathways there are sub pathways, so depending on how you look at it we have  or we have 20.” The 16 distinct pathways are, Information Technology, AG/Bioscience, Food Science, Health Sciences, K-12 Education, Early Childhood, Culinary, Precision Machining, Construction Careers, Welding, Engineering, and Business.
TCA isn’t just about the pathways and spending the day learning and working in the career of your choice. Juniors and seniors have different schedules from one another. To start out, juniors and seniors both go to their ‘home’ schools. Seniors go to their morning classes and juniors board a bus that takes them to The Career Academy building, located at 88th and O St. on the Southeast Community College Lincoln campus. While at the academy, juniors and seniors spend two hours taking classes based on their chosen pathways. In the afternoon, after lunch, the juniors head back to their ‘home’ schools and take their four main courses for the rest of the day. When the juniors get back, the seniors head out the to the Career Academy for roughly two hours to take their chosen pathway classes and then get driven back to their ‘home’ school by 3:05.
Transportation and any required course materials, for Lincoln Public Schools students, are provided for free by Southeast Community College and Lincoln Public Schools, but there is a tuition fee. Hohensee said, “Tuition could be free if you are on free and reduced lunch or close to it. Or, if you do have to pay for it, you get a 50% discount which is $30 or $31 per credit hour. So really, you’re getting college credit at a discount price and getting a jump start on what you want to do in the future.” Looking into the 50% discount, it can be explained like this, at TCA you get at least 15 credits per year. One class is 5 credits, since each credit hour is $30 you would end up paying $150 per class. For an entire year at TCA you would be paying roughly $450. A college rate is more around $60 per credit hour and each class is 5 credits, and so you would end up paying $300 per class, not including books. If you took 15 credits worth of classes at a college, then you would end up paying $900 plus books. So, looking at the bigger picture, the price of college credit classes at TCA for an entire year is cheaper than actually taking them in college.
There are many other focus programs offered at Lincoln High, so what makes this one different? Hohensee said, “We are kind of like a focus program, just on a much larger scale. The focus programs, like the Zoo, is research. Over at Arts and Humanities it’s exactly that, arts and humanities, so we are kind of like 16 focus programs all in one. The other piece of that is we do offer dual credit, so you could be walking out with maybe a semester’s worth of college to an entire year’s worth. Now, there’s not much difference between us and the IB program, other than the IB program is more of a comprehensive academic program whereas we are more career-specific preparation.”
Some students may be interested in trying to balance The Career Academy with another focus/academic program. Hohensee said, “There’s some flexibility between the subpathways, but it’s hard to go from one pathway to another, because most of them are fairly distinct pathways, [for example] it’s hard to go from K-12 education to engineering. It would be possible but it depends on what program. It’s a case by case basis rather than a yes it works or no it doesn’t work.” Another thing to realize is that each pathway has multiple possible careers in which you can go into, so the pathway you are on opens up lots of possibilities for you.
Hohensee has three goals for every pathway. The first goal, he wants to provide enhanced employability, “So when they walk out, they can get a job whether it’s a full time job or part time job.” The second is, certifications. “There are certain certifications that you need to get some jobs and some of the kids out at the career academy will have the certification out of their pathway, which again, enhances their employability.” His third goal is that every pathway provides students with an opportunity to go on to a two year or four year degree.
So depending on your goals The Career Academy might be the place for you! Check it out for yourself at
LHS students riding bus to TCA
Photo by Riana Dazon (11)