According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66.7 percent of 2017 high school graduates between the ages 16 and 24 were enrolled at a college or university in April 2018. The BLS reported at the same time that among individuals between 20 and 29 who received a bachelor’s degree in 2017 – 77.6 percent were employed.
Those numbers are important, like a lot of the data around higher education because it paints a complicated picture for students and parents.
It’s a question that every student has to address near high school graduation: What’s next?
To help with that decision, schools like Mynderse Academy in the Seneca Falls Central School District, a School to Career Program has been implemented. It’s functioned for a number of years now, and is led by Kim Stevers, who serves as the School to Career Coordinator at Mynderse.
In a recent conversation, she said that the program has been a huge help to engage students with a topic that might be difficult or overwhelming. “It gives them a chance to look at options, and gain important experiences that they might not otherwise get if the program didn’t exist,” she explained. “Plus we’ve received some incredible feedback from local businesses who have participated.”
It’s a simple program in theory, but complex to carry out. Students are able to work with local businesses, gaining ‘work experiences’ that could give them an insight into the things that will come next. Whether that’s college, developing a skill in trade, or some hybrid – like going right into work – the School to Career Program aims to bridge the gap.
Mynderse Academy Principal Faith Lewis said during a visit to the FingerLakes1.com Studio that it’s an opportunity like few others for students; and those opportunities are only growing. “Parents are interested, students are interested, and it’s a great way to build more ‘community’ inside of the great one we have here,” she explained.
Anne Smith, who teaches business classes at the high school noted that letting students know about program at places like Finger Lakes Community College, which can lead to job opportunities in a matter of months, or even simply bringing students on a field trip to encounter an environment that could be similar to a future workspace has a big impact. “It helps students stay engaged and think about the big picture,” she added.
That’s an important point, too. Keeping students engaged during high school years means they’re more likely to get through. The BLS reports that 41.8 percent of high school dropouts between 16- and 24-years-old are looking for work.
“The program is for everyone,” Stevers added. “It’s not for any particular type of students. It’s just a great opportunity for students to learn more about the things that interest them.” All three agreed that the program has great potential to continue growing and becoming even more inclusive, as students and business partners continue to get involved with the program.