What should teenagers do after high school?
With rising college tuition costs and unaffordable student loan debt, there is debate over whether college or job training is the right path for young people to face financial constraints and other challenges.
But educators, policymakers and employers who are busy redesigning post-secondary options may not always understand what teens really need and want. What will they learn if they hear?
The short answer is: young people want more than a good livelihood. They want a better life.
This is what EdSurge talked about at length with students from nine diverse high schools in the United States in 2021 about the life they are working towards and the choices they are making to get there. Read profiles, see portraits, and listen to the voices of those students here.
Then keep reading below to know how the lives of these teenagers have changed in the last year.
During his senior year of high school, Dino Sabic of Chatanuga, Tennessee, was feeling the pinch of the epidemic and frustrated about his interrupted football season. Thinking of studying business in college, he began to reconsider his earlier goal of working in medicine.
After graduating in the spring of 2021, Dino enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, where he now studies. He is working part-time in a logistics company.
“I love it so far!” Dino reports. “Amazing school and great work!”
Vernel Chenyu III
Emerging businessman Vernel Chenyu III decided to go to college when he graduated from high school in the spring of 2021. Instead, the New Orleans resident was excited to start a job in the human resources department of a Fortune 500 energy company.
Vernell says he has been doing great work at Entertainy ever since. He expects an increase soon and says his manager has requested that Vernell continue to work in his department because he is such an “asset.”
Over the past year, Vernel has closed its side business of reselling its phone cases. Now he has a new initiative: selling T-shirts through a website called Villain Headquarters.
“Long story short,” Vernell says, “life was great for me.”
Spencer is resentful
Idaho Falls, a member of a farming family in Idaho, Spencer Resenme planned to pursue a college degree in agribusiness to learn about the scientific innovations that shaped agriculture. But before enrolling in higher education, Spencer planned to complete a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After graduating from high school in the spring of 2021, Spencer embarked on a mission to that church. He is currently working in Ghana, according to one of his former teachers.
Ephiotu wake up
With his strong math skills, and family members with a science-centric career, Efiotu Jagun once considered studying engineering in college. He even won a scholarship to Georgia Tech.
But in his senior year of high school in Durham, North Carolina, he realized that he wanted to explore other interests and activities instead. He wondered if it made sense to enroll in a university’s technology powerhouse.
Efiotu started college at Georgia Tech and she says, “So far so good!” He is studying public policy and sociology there, playing Ultimate Frisbee, starting a chapter in a student-advocacy organization, and internsing at the Georgia General Assembly for the 2022 legislature.
College is still on the horizon for Prince Seblos, a busy high school student in Porterville, California, who divides her time into playing tennis matches, raising animals, leading clubs and serving the community.
Prinsa says she has been accepted at four universities so far: California State University in Fresno, California State University in Chico, California State University in Pomona and the University of California in Berkeley. Berkeley offered to cover most of his tuition, he says, as well as invite him to become a Regents scholar. At the moment Prince is hoping to study agricultural and environmental botany to become an pest control consultant.
In working on college applications, he recently enjoyed a trip beyond his hometown in the San Joaquin Valley. Recently, Prince mentioned that “I will be in Sacramento all week for a conference and I am very excited about it.”
The mother is Guadiana
Leading up to her high school graduation, Mayati is looking forward to going to Guadiana College, to continue learning and to study to become a nurse. It was his favorite occupation because it would give him the opportunity to help others.
But Maytio, who lives in San Antonio, is worried about finishing college. A few years ago, his mother could not afford to complete his degree.
Last year, Mayati enrolled at Texas A&M University in San Antonio and said she was focused on school.
Despite her clear career goals in high school and academic success, Cassia was anxious to attend Williams College. He thought he could stay motivated, avoid delays and be confident in his abilities.
In the spring of 2021, Kaiasia became the first person in her family to graduate from high school. He has since started college at Clemson University, where he is studying engineering. “College forced me to run in circles,” she reports.
To help get her there, Kayasia received a $ 10,000 scholarship from a couple living in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as a $ 20,000 CmiC-Allenberg Memorial Scholarship from the American Architecture, Construction and Engineering Mentor Program.
“The scholarship I won was enough to get me to the door,” Kayasia said, “and I’m really grateful.”
When Alan Farfan thought about life after high school, he named career stability a big personal priority. And the Austin, Texas student wasn’t sure that a college degree was the best way to get a reliable job.
Alan is now a high school junior doing some college level courses including UX design. This summer, she plans to do an internship at IBM. And according to one of his teachers, Alan has started working at Whitburger, a job he enjoys.
As a senior in high school, Chicago student Freddie Zepeda came out of college hoping to find a job that would interest him and help him build a better life that his family imagined.
After graduating in 2021, he enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is studying Earth and Environmental Sciences. He said he was doing very well there. Thanks to the credits Freddie earned while enrolling in high school and community college, the university considered him a junior, and he met many requirements for his major.
Freddie says he is now concentrating on applying for a summer internship while maintaining his coursework.
What can we learn from teenagers?
Creating new paths through adult college or job-training programs requires better insight into where young people ultimately want to go. That information is available by listening to teenagers.
“You want to know, for starters, what is a young person’s interest in a job, what is the value of their work, what do they want to get out of work?” Says Anthony Carnival, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
By listening These Nine teenagers, EdSurge has learned some basic lessons. The brains of young people are connected to wires for emotion, purpose, and experimentation. Although some of them face significant barriers to success after high school, they lean more towards their potential than their limits. They trust their family, friends and teachers to guide them. And while some teens are skeptical about the value of college, many still see higher education as the best way to meet their goals.
These insights can help educators, policy makers and employers design better programs for young people.
Annie E. Alison Garber, director of employment, education and training at the Casey Foundation, said: “The more young people are involved and have ownership of the whole thing, the more likely they are to have it.” , Get together and it will be interesting to them and their colleagues. “