Students explore different paths after high school

Anika Canamedi, In-depth Editor

Highschool, College, Work, Retire: for many this is the perceived notion of how life would go. But, between the time of highschool and career, students have the opportunity to make many important decisions about their lives. These can range from the goals to have in college to opting for a different path or form of education to earn their livelihood. 

For many DGN students, the popular step after graduation is to enroll in a four-year university. “We really try to encourage students to consider the best fit in looking for a college.  Fit isn’t just the strength of a program, or the size and location of a campus, but also looking at the affordability, access to professors and additional assistance offered, whether the institution is more research based or teaching based, campus life, and the list can go on,” Counselor Mark Wasik said. 

Nationwide 19.9 million students enrolled in college in 2019, 13.9 million of those enrolled in four-year institutions.

 Choosing a college can be an arduous process for many, being a student athlete offers another layer of complexity. “Deciding I wanted to play sports in college definitely changed me because I had to start taking the ACT when I was a sophomore,” University of Illinois softball commit Abby Ryniec said. “For softball, you can start being recruited by schools once it is September 1st of your junior year so I had to take the ACT earlier than everybody else so I could send it to schools and put it on my profile.”

For hopeful college athletes, one must meet NCAA eligibility requirements and take NCAA approved courses. “We work with the student, but oftentimes will coordinate with a college coach,” Wasik said. 

Another popular option for DGN students is community college. “Every year between 250-300 Downers Grove North Seniors enroll at College of DuPage,” Highschool admissions representative for College of DuPage Stephanie Loconsole said.

Many students choose to attend College of DuPage until they collect 64 college credits, then opt to transfer out of community college to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Community colleges also allows students to have more time to decide their major among other benefits. “Flexibility to live at home while going to school allows students to save money, and figure out what they want to study before making a big personal and financial commitment,” Loconsole said.

Another option is trade school. 

A trade school would last for two years and then transition into a five year paid apprenticeship. The change at starting one’s financial life earlier is a primary motivator for many who choose this path

“I originally wanted to work with animals and then through…all that research I realized that it would be anywhere between four and eight years of schooling and the highest paying job was being a veterinarian and that was an average 30-40k a year. Whereas, going into the trades if you’re well skilled you can be making 90k a year. It allows me to live more of my life financially,” Senior Alison Wernett who plans on attending trade school to be an electrician said. 

However, Wernett feels that DGN does not do enough to expose students to this option. “Unfortunately I don’t see it much because it just isn’t emphasized in most classes,” said Wernett.

Another career option that is less seen among DGN students is the military. According to a survey of 212 DGN seniors, only four are choosing careers in the military.

Private Logan Maramba knew he wanted to enlist from a young age after looking up to his grandfather who had previously fought in Vietnam. “I went and did basic training over the summer and my commitment level right now is one weekend a month,” said Maramba.

Like Wernett he feels that more students should consider other careers outside of a four year college. “It [enlisting] should be seen as a more valid option,” said Maramba.

He plans to continue to pursue his career in the military while attending college. “I’m in the military and I’m getting my college paid for from them,” said Maramba. 

“College is not necessary for all students, but I believe that some form of education/training beyond high school is becoming increasingly important for students to maintain a competitive edge within our ever changing workforce,” said Wasik.