One day last week, not long after I arrived at work, a story came on the television that airs the news or sports game in my team’s workspace. They mentioned a high school in Oregon that requires students to apply to college in order to graduate from high school. A few of us that were working away look up to the screen and want to more about the story. Why? Because the school was near us in Portland. I was intrigued. A high school in the Columbia River Gorge (about and hour east of Portland) in the Corbett School District may mandate this ruling for graduation. They want to make sure that students have options for their future. It made me wonder, do some students not know how, or have the support to apply to college, so they just do not even try?
I can remember in high school struggling to figure out the matrix of applying to colleges. For a few reasons. My mom had passed on 1.5 years before and she would have most likely helped me (or so I think). My dad was not really involved in my life at that time. I also did not have the money to send away to a bunch of colleges and universities in the form of an application fee. I had no idea what I wanted to do after college, or what type of school I wanted to go to. So what did I do? I applied to a few local colleges that had no application fee, and I applied to a university affiliated with my high school (again no application fee) to see if I would get in and potentially they could help me with financial aid. Did I really look at my options? No. Did anyone really help me? No. It was in my high school’s best interest for me to get into the affiliated college. They did next to nothing to help me find a school based on my interests. I am not sure the career office even checked in with us to see if we had applied anywhere.
What happened to me? I went to the college affiliated with my high school. I was actually fortunate to receive a large financial aid package based on my family situation. Do I regret it? Yes, and no. I received a good education, but half way through college I wondered what direction my life would have taken if someone had helped me to select a college that was just right for me. Even if it was in the middle of Montana. I worked hard, got good grades, learned a lot, but I often wonder what might life could have looked like with just a bit of guidance.
Oh and in case you are wondering. The Corbett School District indicates that this new requirement would mean that students have to get into a secondary school, however, just because they are accepted, does not mean that they actually have to go. The school will also help to pay for any application fees incurred. So students would learn about themselves along the way, and who knows maybe there are millions of individuals out there that never went to college because there was no one to help them navigate the landscape. Maybe this requirement will set expectations for students to work hard and try to get into college, and maybe their life will be changed because of it. Oh, and by the way, this high school was ranked the fifth best in the nation by Newsweek in 2010, so maybe they are on the right path.