Students weigh options after high school

Students weigh options after high school

As second semester begins at Normal West, most seniors have already decided what the future will look like for them. For many, college is not part of the equation, and it is time to start recognizing that this is an acceptable option.

A large part of the push for students to attend four-year universities comes from their teachers in high school.

Phrases like “We are doing this activity to prepare you for what your university is going to be like”, which a student might hear quite frequently and make options like community college or trade school look less viable.

Teachers sometimes assume that all, or the vast majority, of the students in their class will be attending a university in the future.

However, according to The Institute of Education Sciences: National Center for Education Statistics, of the 3.0 million high school completers in 2013, some 2 million, or 66 percent, enrolled in college the following fall.

This 66% includes two and four-year universities. Only 42% of students enrolled in a four-year university immediately after high school.

The four-year university experience is talked about so much during high school, especially senior year, that it leaves this 58% of students wondering if what they are planning on will make them successful.

In reality, with options like community college or trade school, success does not come purely from a four-year university.

“Community colleges can help you decide a major,” said Sarah Yoder, a junior at Normal West.

“Or if you were interested in a specific career field, there are a lot of vocational schools where you can learn the trade without paying tens of thousands to attend a four-year university.” she continued.

For a student to attend a four year university with in-state tuition for four years, on average, it would cost about $40,000. By attending community college which is about $6,000 for two years, a student would save nearly $34,000.

In addition, going to a trade school could help a student reach their goal of having a permanent job much quicker, for a much cheaper price.

Students believe that it is important for teachers to understand all of these things, and to recognize that not all of their students will be going to four-year schools after they graduate high school.

Abrie Klink and Sabrina Poston, both seniors at Normal West, said that talking about these other options is important for both students and teachers.

“Don’t force this idea of attending a university being a requirement for all students. Show them other options besides college.” said Poston.

“It’s important to have these conversations, teachers need to remember that.” added Klink.

Mr. John Bierbaum, social studies teacher at Normal West, stated that he tries to incorporate discussion of other options after high school besides attending a four year university.

Pointing out these other possible options, and not making them seem less than the four-year path, is something that teachers need to do more, and something that needs to be handled better by the public in general.