Senior Adam Steffes said he plans on joining the Iowa National Guard after high school, and utilize their tuition assistance to pay for college. All colleges offer some sort of financial aid, with thousands of dollars at the high school and millions more in the private sector up for grabs to new and already attending students. However, not everything is about money, as there are other things to prepare for. Such as going on college visits to get to know the campus, checking out the dorm rooms, looking into the work study programs, and prerequisites for a degree. Choosing a degree is also an important step in preparing for college. Senior Sean Card will be studying for a degree in engineering after high school at Iowa State University.
Another way to prepare for life after high school is by attending a career fair, like the one the sophomores attended on Thursday, March 20, in Harlan. The students were able to experience different job opportunities that might interest them, but is only having one day to explore careers enough for students? Many students change their minds daily. How can a student be expected to know what they want to pursue after high school, or even if they want to pursue a higher education? There is a state required program called "I Have a Plan" that the students have to complete in order to graduate. Students begin filling out "I Have a Plan" during 8th grade year, but many have no idea what they want to do the next day, let alone after graduation.
Senior Maddie Christensen shares her opinion about her experience with I Have a Plan: “It’s the stupidest thing ever. I don’t think anyone actually tries to fill it out right; they just do it to get it done.”
High school guidance counselor Courtney Walter said, “When students do it independently they don’t always complete it to their full potential, but I believe there is a lot of good stuff that would be beneficial in the program to go through with some direction.”
Which brings up another point, if schools have programs that are supposed to prepare kids for their careers, why is the college dropout rate so high? According to USA today, “35% of students who enter college will dropout during the first year and only 63% of students who enroll in a 4 year university will get a degree.” So why is the school system pushing students to look so far into the future, when in reality, it would be more beneficial to focus on getting into college and getting a degree. Mrs. Walter also expresses, “I think kids should be developing skills to choose a career and experience career options, but we shouldn’t be funneling kids into a career at a young age.” Although career exploration is important, maybe schools should spend more time preparing students for life after graduation; such as a workplace/college readiness course required for all students. Students could be held accountable by making "I Have a Plan" part of the assigned curriculum, maybe then all students would fill it out more accurately.