FREE University of Hawaiʻi Community College classes. Yes, you read that right.

The COVID-19 pandemic did much more than curtail the academic year and graduation celebration for Hawaiʻi’s high school seniors. Many graduates’ plans for college and work were disrupted as well.

The UH Community Colleges are offering free, online Next Step: Career Exploration classes to Hawaiʻi’s class of 2020 public high school graduates. It is on a first come, first serve basis, and students can develop their career plans in these summer classes and identify their next steps toward their career goals, whether to enroll in college, seek employment or both. Students will begin to earn college credits and start working towards their next graduation, and earning a college degree. Those who sign up will learn how to navigate college, explore career options and discover the education and training available at UH to help them reach their career and life goals. It is part of the Next Steps to Your Future initiative, a partnership between the UH Community Colleges and Hawaiʻi P-20 Partnerships for Education.

“The high school graduating class of 2020 persevered in the face of incredible adversity in their personal lives and education. We know many of their plans were disrupted, so the University of Hawaiʻi is offering free summer Career Exploration classes to help them develop new plans and take the next steps toward their goals,” said UH President David Lassner. “Hawaiʻi needs every one of our young people to be a part of planning for our shared future and how they will each contribute to taking care of their families, their communities and these islands that are our home.”

How to sign up

All public high school graduates are encouraged to sign up via the Next Step: Career Exploration website, which includes a list of frequently asked questions. They can also email or text nextstep@hawaii.edu. The first class begins on May 26. Students will be assigned to classes based on when they sign up and the information they provide, such as career interests.

Course selection

For these summer courses, students should plan to spend about 24 hours every week to prepare and strategize for their future success.

There are four different start dates this summer.

  • Group 1: May 26—July 2 ($744 value)
  • Group 2: June 8—July 2 ($496 value)
  • Group 3: June 22—July 2 ($248 value)
  • Group 4: July 6—August 14 ($744 value)

Students who complete an initial Next Step: Career Exploration class by July 2 may have an opportunity to enroll in a second course more focused on a specific career or industry pathway starting July 6. Students will earn from one to three credits depending upon the class.

The UH Community Colleges and Hawaiʻi P-20 Partnerships for Education are co-sponsors of the Next Steps to Your Future initiative. Hawaiʻi P-20’s Summer Advising Initiative helps students to make informed critical decisions towards achieving their post-high plans. Advisors will guide students through their summer transition towards college or career, including nudging messages through a texting campaign, building on a Hawaiʻi P-20 pilot project previously implemented in a few high schools this year. Students can sign up for the free summer advising program by texting “nextsteps” to (808) 460-8360 or signing up online.

Next Steps is generously funded by UH partners at the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the Hawaiʻi Resilience Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Strada Education Network and the Stupski Foundation.