Life After High School

Life after high school; who thinks of that until second semester senior year?

College is an important financial commitment for most students. According to bigfuture.collegeboard.org, college can easily range from $3,440 to $32,410 annually. A quick addition shows $14,000 to well above $130,000.

College is not for everyone. Some students have poor grades or test scores. Petersons.com says that most colleges and universities require  a 2.7 to 3.0 GPA.  Some highly desirable school require a GPA of 3.6 to a 4.0.

A career is the goal of some students. A great way to go into the career of choice is to participate in a program  to earn a vocational certificate. Pittsylvania County students can do this in the Career and Technical Center.

Some students chose to enlist into the military right away. The military has requirements: you must be 17 years of age www.miliary.com and earn a score from the 30s-50s on the ASVAB test.

College is considered to be the crowning achievement of education. With the current economy and the crippling costs associated with it, career-minded students are re-thinking this goal. Some teachers are too.

“College is important, but not necessarily for career preparation. I think it helps develop one’s sense of self, broaden one’s experiences, background, and exposes one to more diversity. It is a period of growth and maturation,'” said Mrs. Ginny Farthing, science teacher.

For those students unable or uninterested in college, there are military and careers options.

Mrs. Peggy Huff , a SPED paraprofessional, said, “Going into the military can give you money to go to college because the government will pay for it; also, it is good discipline for those that need it. Work experience is good if you do not want to go to school because you are either tired of school or because of financial reasons.”

“It definitely depends on the student. Not everyone is college material and not everyone has a choice they can make right away.” Mrs. Farthing said.

“Some students just need a little more time to make that important life choice.” Mrs. Melissa Motley, English department said.

 “Some students prefer to go to work right away because they just don’t have the money,” Mrs. Huff said, “or maybe they just do not think it is for them. Circumstances in life also come into place.”

Mrs. Motley said, “Some feel burned out on academics. They think that college is not fit for them at the time, but most go back to get a degree. At the time, you only think of money, but soon you realize it is about your passion.”

Mrs. Motley said, “I don’t believe that all my students will go to college. Not at first, at least. I do think most of them will, just not right after graduation.”

Mrs. Farthing agreed. “No, but I do expect them to further educate themselves, though.” Mrs. Farthing said.

A positive post high school experience is not complicated. Mrs. Huff said, “A perfect learning situation would be a place where a combination of learning ways would be ideal.”

“College is something I liked a lot,” Mrs. Motley said, “I went to a small college, which was really a great experience because it gave a good one on one type of vibe.”

Mrs. Farthing said, “I think the perfect learning experience is where there is a close association between the practical experiences. The best way to learn something is through practice and putting it into action.”

An exceptional student does not have to be a genius.  Mrs. Farthing said, “A great student is someone who assumes responsibility for his or her own education and understands that includes spending time with the material individually. An excellent student is someone who is prepared for the class; going above and beyond expectations and interacts willingly and readily. They would also put differences aside for the sake of learning; and to be able to apply to new situations with what they learned.”

“An exceptional student is someone who has the independent desire to read, research, and learn,” Mrs. Motley said.

“I would say one who has good work ethic and has a positive attitude and has the want and desire to achieve certain things. Punctuality is also an important thing as well as the desire to learn and a good head on their shoulders,” Mrs. Huff said.

Teachers are surrounded by students every week for years. They watch their students as they become adults.

“Maturity depends on each individual student. Some are so immature and just don’t start maturing until their senior year and some just are mature for their age and do not need to really change. Sometimes it’s obvious fairly early within their semester just who are driven and focused. Some have to grow into themselves and you begin to see a change in their outlook towards their education; it really just depends on the student,” Mrs. Farthing said.

The teachers did go to college right after high school.

 “Yes,” Mrs. Huff said, “I went (to college), but I ended up quitting and coming back later, and now I have my two year degree;  I teach here and at another place.”

Mrs. Farthing also went to college after high school, “I did, and primarily because that was the expectation.”

There is an option of going to get a vocational certificate at a community college like DCC or going to a school that specializes in those kinds of certificates. 

“Vocational certificates provide an opportunity for students to feel successful in a special talent,” Mrs. Farthing said, “The community doesn’t need everyone to be a college-educated person. Everyone has a choice to do something and they can contribute to the society with what they have and their talents.”

Mrs. Motley said, “For many, they (vocational certificates) give you a trade that can help provide you money that you need. It helps financially and also can be used for save up for college.”

The Pittsylvania County Career and Technical Center, local community colleges, and vocation specific schools that specialize in a certain field can provide high school students with the education to earn a living after high school. The Career and Technical Center is free, and offers a good opportunity to get a certificate and earn money. Community college is cheaper than a four year college and works for students who have graduated high school, but did not go to the Career and Technical Center.

The guidance offices at CHS will offer juniors and seniors the assistance they need to make a decision about life after high school.