ETHS emphasizes college over other post-secondary options

Sari Oppenheimer, Staff Writer

During the first month of freshman year, when meeting with my counselor, I got the impression that the only option after high school was going to college. However this is not true; there are many options for students after graduating ETHS, but the lack of introduction and emphasis to these options leaves many students wondering what is available besides college.

When considering what will happen after graduating high school, the most common thought among students is to attend college. However, this mindset isn’t right for every student. While many students choose to attend college, those who don’t are at a disadvantage for making decisions about post-secondary options because of the lack of emphasis around these options. From the very first meeting the freshmen have with their counselors, there is a certain level of emphasis on what students need to do in order to achieve the one end goal: college.

According to the Illinois report card from 2018, around 77 percent of students will attend college after graduation, there are still students who don’t fall within this percentage. There are many reasons that students choose not to attend college after graduating high school, but one of the common reasons is that college is not the right fit for a student.

“College is part of the counseling model for ETHS. College is not for everybody… and it’s more about what’s right for that student and where they will be the most successful,” ETHS counselor Karen Morris says.

There are many options for students that equate to the college track. ETHS values finding a way for every student to succeed in school and after. For some students this means going to a four-year college or a community college, but for others success beyond high school means going to a technical college, joining the military, taking part in an apprenticeship, or joining the workforce. These options and more are all introduced at ETHS, but they are not as highly publicized by counselors and other staff.

“In the same way that college opportunities are announced, announcements about other opportunities need to be made. There needs to be a better distribution of this information to students,” ETHS post-secondary counselor Michelle Vazquez says.

With college being eliminated from the picture, there are still many options left for ETHS students, but the problem lies with the access to information about these opportunities. Throughout the many meetings that students have with their counselors, there is a key amount of information about alternatives to college missing from these meetings. This lack of emphasis leaves students feeling pressured to follow their peers in thinking about college and also leaves students to seek out information about post-graduation options on their own beyond what group counselor meetings provide.

ETHS should provide students with the best chance for success beyond high school by putting the same amount of emphasis on alternatives after graduation as there is for college. With a better understanding of the extensive options that students have from the very beginning of high school, students would be able to comfortably make decisions about theirs futures. If alternatives were given the same value of discussion as college is from the very beginning, students who might be seeking a different path would feel less pressure to, and the college acceptance mindset that many students start thinking about very early on would be lessened dramatically.