Life after high school leads students to college, the military, and the skilled trades

High school can be incredibly stressful for students who are met with the overwhelming task of choosing a college or planning their future. I felt lost and unsure of where to begin. Fortunately, at the beginning of my senior year I met with some advisors who made it easier than I anticipated.

My name is Olivia and I am a student at Bay City Western High School and Bay Arenac Career Center. During my junior year at Career Center, I became a member of one of its many student clubs, DECA. In DECA, young minds from across the globe competed in an array of business competitions.

Engaging with a diverse group of individuals who shared my interests was incredibly inviting. Showcasing the knowledge and skills I acquired at the Career Center not only allowed me to express my passion for marketing, but also ignited it further. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I decided I wanted to pursue marketing when furthering my education. As of today, I am thrilled to share that I have received several college admission offers.

Here are some ways our local schools have been preparing students for life after high school:

Olivia Maurer, a senior at Bay City Western High School and the Bay-Arenac Career Center, says advisers at her schools have made it easier to plan her future.Schools create a ‘Senior Defense Course’

Due to the impact of COVID-19, many high school juniors and seniors faced challenges in finding volunteer opportunities. Local schools recognized that it may be harder to graduate with the required volunteer hours.

In response to this, Bay City Public Schools introduced a new Senior Defense course.

Western High School highlights alumni to show current students what's possible. (Graphic courtesy of Bay City Western High School)As a student experiencing Senior Defense for the first time, I see it as a course designed to equip seniors for their future endeavors. Throughout the class, we learn vital skills such as crafting cover letters, requesting transcripts, and exploring college and career options. We utilized programs such as Xello, which offered suitable choices based on our career preferences and personalities. This class has provided valuable preparation for me during my college search. 

Celebrating trade school plans

During the 2022-23 school year, Bay Arenac Career Center highlighted its popular manufacturing and industrial technology programs through an organized a National Signing Day, sponsored by Wolverine and SkillsUSA. On National Signing Day, individuals passionate about trades dedicated their post-secondary plans to continuing in this field.

Only 9% of high schoolers decide to pursue trades as a career path out of high school, yet the demand in this sector is substantial. Experts estimate around 7 million jobs are available in the trades. This event drew the participation of over 90 students from Bay Arenac Career Center.

Western High School invites alumni in different fields, military recruiters, college representatives, and others to talk to the students about what it takes to succeed. (Photo courtesy of Bay City Western High School)Career Center graduates ready for a cosmetology career

The Career Center provides a two-year program for students interested in cosmetology, covering the necessary 1,500 hours required to pass the State Board of Cosmetology examination and meet licensing requirements. Graduates of this program can enter the workforce immediately, with training and real-life experience gained through the program preparing them for success in a salon environment.

Veterans explain opportunities in the military

The military consistently recruits at our local schools, including our Career Center. As a student, I've attended various presentations by the military that aim to highlight diverse job opportunities, mirroring the career paths we are learning about in our programs. These presentations extend to our home schools, where the military engages students with a pull-up bar challenge, encouraging participation for a chance to win prizes and fostering interest in potential career paths.

Western High School highlights alumni to show current students what's possible. (Graphic courtesy of Bay City Western High School)In a recent visit to our Marketing & Management class, military recruiters shared job opportunities and provided everyone with MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) to try. Several of my peers have arranged appointments to meet with military recruiters, eager to gain insights into the opportunities they offer as part of their post-secondary plans.

Alumni step into the spotlight

Every week, Bay City Western High School showcases an Alumni Career Spotlight, providing students and parents with valuable insights into various career pathways. These short articles aim to inspire us by sharing information about different possibilities after high school. The articles cover topics such as professional experiences, a typical day in the life, educational requirements, and how being a Warrior impacted them.

Each subject offers a glimpse into the journey he or she took to achieve on-the-job success, serving as a source of motivation and inspiration to prepare students for life after high school. The Alumni Spotlight articles are shared on Facebook.

Decision Day celebrates plans for education after high school

Decision Day is an annual event hosted by the Skill Center for senior students to ceremoniously declare their dedication to pursuing a post-secondary education after high school. This culminating event takes place at the end of the school year, serving as a symbolic celebration after the Skill Center has actively encouraged students to explore and commit to various post-secondary plans.

These initiatives work together to create a supportive environment for students, offering diverse pathways for post-secondary success and instilling confidence as I continue my journey to decide. It's clear that the guidance and opportunities provided by our local schools have played a pivotal role in shaping my path beyond high school.

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