Why college now?

After graduating, students have several options besides heading straight for college

By Pauline Ojambo
Talon staff writer

 

“I am attending University of Wisconsin-Madison for college,” said senior Sarah Winter. “I thought that it would be a good fit for me… I wanted to attend a larger public University and UW was both of those.”

After wrapping up her senior year, Winter is ready to move beyond high school – a transition that remains a primary goal for most Minnehaha freshmen.

“I think, in this day and age the only way to get ahead is to have an education,” said freshman Zoey Twyford, who plans to get at least a master’s degree. “I’m interested in medicine, either pediatrics, or radiology, [but] taking a year off is always good.”

College doesn’t need to happen right after high school; options include travel, volunteering, community college and getting a job.
Most private school students seem to assume that college is mandatory, but with college costs slowly rising and financial difficulties becoming more prominent, Is heading straight to a four year college following high-school
graduation the best move for everyone? What would happen if a few years were taken off in between high school and college?

Minnehaha is a college-preparatory school. The school’s curriculum is designed to prepare students for college by the end of senior year. College counseling begins sophomore year when students begin the process of figuring out which college is right for them. Counselor’s introduce the Naviance program, which quizzes students and helps them find the right college based on
personality, goals and interests.

When choosing to travel students benefit from the experience and work. They can enhance their language and cultural skills while working on a second language. Students learn to problem solve, organize and learn to be more independent; they look after themselves and the basic necessities of life become the main focus. Where is my food going to come from? Where should I go to

Traveling students learn to understand people with differences; volunteering turns the feeling of goodwill into action. Colleges don’t just look for a list of organizations; they want to see a full picture of the kind of person you are. They want to see real examples of commitment, dedication and other qualities. Volunteering gives them a glimpse of who you are. Students experience possible career paths, meet different types of people; and build new relationships – some schools, gives academic credit.

Community colleges offer another option. The difference between community college and a four-year college (or university — a “university” offers graduate programs leading to master’s, doctoral and professional degrees) is the size, name, length of time (in years) and degrees offered. Community colleges help assist students to go onto college, or train them for specific careers such as
electronic technicians, cosmetologists or law-enforcement officers. Community college programs are usually less expensive and shorter than four-year college programs. Some students start at a community college and transfer to a four-year program.

Receiving a job right after high school can be very beneficial. Entry-level jobs may not be glamorous but they can open up doors for long-term jobs with higher pay. They include non-profit organizations, joining a government agency or becoming receptionists. Some jobs offer long-term employment and require limited or no training beyond high school.

“Certain service jobs we will always need; plumbers, garbage collectors, recycling, street sweepers, grounds [and] renewable energy,” said Ekstedt.

Freshman Vanda Niemi has her mind already set on going to a four-year college — but not a typical sort. She hopes to go to West Point, the U.S. military academy for army officers. Military academies like West Point, the Air Force Academy, the Coast
Guard Academy and the Naval Academy provide students with a college education for free. A commitment must be made for at least two years of service afterwards. Admission standards for these schools, however, are very high.

To prepare for this decision Niemi plans on taking AP classes, keeping up with school and staying as athletic as possible.

“I made the decision this year,” Niemi said, ”I wanted to go to West Point not only for the top-notch education, but you’re required to do a sport, [it’s] a great community [and] the chance to serve afterwards…serving is great.”

Besides the usual credentials a college applicant lines up, Niemi will need a nomination by a U.S. senator by junior or senior year to get into West Point.

“Start planning now,” Niemi advises anyone thinking about military academies.

The decision to go to college now, later or never is ultimately yours.

Whether your dream is to become a singer, an engineer or an ordinary office worker, know, that college can come after your present goals, goals that can and will open up doors.

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