At this point in the year, seniors flock to the high school library. Whether it is to begin working on local scholarships, finish homework assignments, or just to find a corner for peace and quiet, we are all working hard… or in some cases, hardly working. For most seniors, our days are spent teasing teachers and counting down the days until graduation. When we reflect on four very short years, it’s amazing how far we’ve all grown. From awkward freshmen trying to fit-in and find our way between temporary buildings and new friends, to making the first stamp on a new school and our last imprint on high school life before being set loose on the outside world.
In these busy, remaining handful of school days, the hallways are abuzz with spring fever, activities and excitement. Between scholarships, sports, and planning for prom, I’ve had little time to even think about graduation. This year’s track season is jam-packed full of meets, as is softball, baseball, golf, and OHSET (equestrian team) are humming along also. However, all of this busyness will crescendo with graduation day. And then…. the day after: we’ll all wake up and no longer be comfortably in high school. Once the dust settles, we’re left with “the big question mark”…what now?
The class of 2013 is stepping into an economy nearly rivaling the great depression of the 1930’s. However, we have no New Deal Era entry-level job opportunities. As if waking from a bad dream, our Social Studies and Economics lectures, once just abstract ideas are becoming personal reality. The ongoing recession impacts our future plans, like whether some of us choose to take out $50,000-$100,000+ in student loan debt gambling on careers that may or may not ever pay back the educational investment. For others, it may be considering a different path. On a recent NPR program, a guest author discussed the idea that young people today must carefully consider whether or not a traditional education path is economically feasible. He went on to mention that we must consider what alternative education paths are available such as internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
High school graduates of past generations knew they could make a decent living with a blue-collar job, buy a house and feed a family. Those who decided to go on to college and obtain a degree could go start undecided, pursue a liberal arts degree and choose a major at a later time. This is not the case today. Skyrocketing tuitions, increased competition from those displaced from layoffs, and out-of-state applications for the state schools makes college entrance more difficult every day. All of which makes us seniors very stressed out. Sometimes we just need to step back and take a deep breath.
Education is an investment in oneself. An education doesn’t stop at a high school or college degree. It should be a lifelong exploration of inquiry. A yearning to better yourself and development of a curious, engaged mind to a changing and complex world.
As I walk through the doors of Vernonia Schools, I am grateful for the education and preparation for life I’ve been given by the faculty here as a foundation to write (and live) the next chapter…
In the meantime–We’re all in this together.
Savannah Brown is a senior at Vernonia High School and an intern with Vernonia’s Voice. She plans to attend Portland Community College next fall.