Graduation brings diplomas, decisions
Around this time of year, there's a countdown clock in every senior's head, and it's ticking toward one event: graduation. It's the ultimate pinnacle of every student's high school experience, the very thing one works at for years. The greatest thing about the ceremony, however, is not just that it celebrates the past but that it opens up brand new opportunities for the future.
A lot of the talk around the Wheatland Union High School campus has been about the paths students will pursue after they get their diplomas. For some, this means immediately pursuing a career that they are passionate about. Others will head off to colleges or universities, and for them, this marks the execution of a choice they have been trying to make since their junior year.
Many people mailing in college applications are so worried about getting accepted, they forget to remember that any school would be lucky to have them. College isn't for everybody, but for those trying to decide on one, there is much to consider.
WUHS students must ask themselves: Do I want to stay close to home or get out on my own? Should I opt for a private college, or leave the small campus behind and choose a larger public school? Will the mountains or the beach be my preferred location?
An important criterion to consider, of course, is the available programs that match any desired major, but a change of heart over careers is so common among students that there is room for uncertainty.
With so many academic institutions in our country alone, there's bound to be a good fit for every person. And yet, one big obstacle looms in the way of Ivy League dreams. Through grade 12, we are given the privilege of a free education, but there's no such thing as a free degree.
With tuition rates rising every year, it's getting harder and harder to afford higher learning. At the University of California schools, a popular choice for WUHS students, there have been protests against the ever-increasing fees that undergraduates must pay.
One good option for financially struggling WUHS students is to check the daily bulletin for scholarship offers, or go online (an action familiar to most teenagers) and do a little research. It's often surprising just how much financial aid schools are willing to offer, despite these economic times.
Community colleges can add to a person's knowledge without the huge price tag of a four-year school, and the financially savvy sometimes opt to switch to more expensive universities after two years.
Students have to be realistic, but each graduate has to follow his or her priorities. What's truly difficult about starting a life is that it requires young people to make very adult decisions. Luckily, we Pirates have been trained to handle whatever comes our way.
Meghan Lasswell is a junior at Wheatland Union High School. Her column appears about every sixth week in Education.