A fast track to college and career

Our Career Pathways Program helps students earn a free associate degree while in high school

Whatever path our students choose, we want them to succeed. Our mission is to develop students who begin college or their careers by hitting the ground running. That’s why we focus on helping students get college- and career-ready while still in high school.  

With one of the first models of its kind, our Pathways Program enables students to begin taking community college or vocational classes during high school. It comprises four distinct pathways: Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep, Teach and Lead, Health and Wellness, and Industrial Automation. Through this program, students at WCPA and seven public high schools throughout the Central Valley can accelerate their education and enter the workforce ahead of the game.

In addition to their core curriculum, high schoolers take courses taught by college professors, introducing them to concepts relevant to their chosen pathway. At the same time, they get real-world career experience, including paid internships.  

Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep

Agriculture is a big business in the Central Valley, and it’s changing rapidly because of technology. As the need for skilled workers grows, the industry is looking for qualified college graduates to join their teams. Which is precisely why we created Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep (Ag Prep).  

Our signature career-focused early college model, Ag Prep allows students to graduate from high school with 60 college credits and 200 hours of work experience. They can then enter a four-year college as a sophomore or junior with a scholarship of up to $30,000 in total or fast-track directly to their career with a $35,000 paid fellowship at The Wonderful Company that trains them for middle management at one of our companies.

Offering three distinct curriculums in Ag Business Management, Ag Science Technology, or Plant Science, Ag Prep now serves 1,400 students from ninth through 12th grade and encompasses seven public high schools and three community colleges.  

This is not just a path to something later. Students in Ag Prep earn college credits now. They can knock off two years of college while they’re in high school—and there’s a job opportunity waiting when they complete the program. This community has a high unemployment rate, so this is golden for our students, our parents, and our community.

Paul Lopez

Superintendent, Mendota Unified School District

Ag Prep was named a winner of “Partnership of the Year” at the 2019 Partnerships for Industry & Education (PIE) Contest at the California Economic Summit, where The Wonderful Company was recognized for our innovative partnerships to better prepare the workforces of the future.

Teach and Lead

Now, perhaps more than ever, good, quality teachers are in high demand. With our Teach and Lead Pathway, high school students can graduate from Wonderful College Prep Academy with an associate degree in Elementary Teacher Education for transfer from Bakersfield College.

Here, students gain invaluable on-the-job experience through internships and job shadowing, while earning dual class credit (credits apply to both high school and college graduation requirements). Once graduated from high school, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in just two years instead of four.

With an average salary between $73,000 and $99,000 per year, students may choose to become elementary or secondary school teachers, special education teachers, or school administrators.  

Health and Wellness

Jobs in health care are projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average occupation. To help fill the expected 2.6 million new jobs, students can choose the Health and Wellness Pathway, a no-cost opportunity for students to graduate from WCPA with an associate degree in Public Health from Bakersfield College.  

Classes and internships count toward students’ high school and college degrees. Once graduated from high school, Health and Wellness Pathway students can earn their bachelor’s degree in just two years.

With salaries ranging from $57,000 to $123,000 per year, graduates can pursue careers as a health coach, science writer or editor, environmental scientist, health services manager, or public health investigator.

Industrial Automation

By taking part in our Industrial Automation Pathway, Shafter High School students can get a job right out of high school working in high-tech factories earning a starting pay of $17 to $19 per hour.

Students who enroll in one Bakersfield College course—free of charge—will earn a certificate in Industrial Automation in just two years. Potential career options include working as a maintenance mechanic, automation specialist, or industrial technician.  

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