Schools making college planning for seniors easier - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Schools making college planning for seniors easier

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - High school seniors are stressed out, mostly over the pressure of planning for what happens after graduation.

College? Technical School? The Military? A two-year community college? The dilemma can be daunting.

School administrators say they realized the pressure to secure a sound financial future, please their parents, find the right career and university. The transition was getting tougher all the time. That's why they increased outreach to students and parents.

Poplar Bluff schools are one of several setting aside a class period each day for freshman through senior students to plan for today and prepare for tomorrow. 

Being 'college and career ready' is a huge segment of Poplar Bluff's advisory program. 

"It's just so important that the kids get that extra support set aside during the school day and interact with other students dealing with the same pressures. Meanwhile there's a teacher or counselor standing by that's ready to help," said Principal, Mike Kiehne. 

Students say picking a school, preparing for entrance exams, pleasing their parents and paying up can be terrifying, but the help and guidance took the pressure off if you paid attention and accepted the advice. No doubt in the beginning they discovered a lot of pressure all around. 

"I was kind of nervous," said Ben Soeter, a senior who applied to nearly two dozen schools. 

"I took the ACT seven times," said Olivia Hurst, a pre-med hopeful. 

"It's time consuming," said Namara Haq, who plans to go into the health science field of some kind.

She's been accepted to SLU, UMKCC, the University of Missouri and other schools. She's wading through the scholarship process.

"There's just a lot of essay formats and questions to fill out, but we get a lot of help here and so that takes a lot of the edge off because you have to focus on your academics of high school too," Haq said.

Six Poplar Bluff seniors went from restless to ready. Some students talked about their differing paths in the process of weighing the pros and cons of schools, scholarships and possible career paths. 

"I would say you had to start thinking about it early," said Hunt Nagy, senior. 

"I knew what my passion was," said Trevor Asher. "I know I want to go into music. So I started looking at the best program and making a plan early. Who knows, I could decide something different but starting somewhere just makes me feel more prepared." 

In fact, that's lesson number one. Some students started as early as seventh grade

"That's when I took the ACT for the first time," said Mallory Dye, senior. "I'm glad I did."

"I started shadowing different professionals and health care workers my sophomore year and that just made me know if that's what I wanted to do and in what aspect," said Hurst. 

Early planning also means taking dual credit classes in high school that count as college credit. Also, when picking a university, seniors say don't be afraid to make lots of calls to the admissions offices and talk to several people and also ask your questions.

They say you'll also want to visit and check the campus out for yourself. 

"Don't be afraid to call. They really are easy to talk to," said Mallory Dye. She's a senior who hopes to get a cheerleading scholarship. "Even then it's not just about how athletic you are, you have to have good grades too, you have to be a good citizen and an all around leader. They also look at your community service work because it says a lot about your character." 

Olivia Hurst agreed.

"If you get those opportunities to do different volunteer projects, take it. Beta Club and Student Council are great ways to easily find those ways you can help the community," she said. 

Here's what students found to be the real mystery: financial planning and finding scholarships. 

"Don't be afraid to ask for help. When the teachers or administrators present a new opportunity, take it. Whether it's a scholarship opportunity, or to shadow someone in your field," said Hurst. "It all will make you glad you did." 

Poplar Bluff gives students the chance to sort all that out during a one-hour class each day.  

"We have it set up so that it's structured differently every day of the week during that hour for every student," said Kiehne. "Teachers address what's going on with every student, what kind of help they need. There's one on one connections and the students know there's someone they can go to, there's someone that cares.

We work on scholarships, answer school questions for now and for later and try to help them handle any outside issues that get in the way," he said. "It's helped us see better grades and better morale and less stress." 

Students say all this help at school is a huge benefit and so is having family on your side. 

"My parents really support me and they helped a lot too," said Soeter. 

"My parents have helped me every step of the way," said Nagy. "Start planning now, That's what I'd tell any underclassman getting ready." 

Poplar Bluff's program is similar to those in Cape Girardeau, Jackson and others. Many school principals and counselors told us in the past decade they've realized there's a greater need to get students planning early, and set aside actual time during the day to do that in a class period format.

Administrators say that makes students perform better now with higher grades, better attendance, improved citizenship and greater success when they enter the college and career world. 

While our student round-table had all chosen universities, many students choose two year schools, technical programs or the military. 

Administrators and students encouraged both their peers and parents to reach out for guidance as early as possible. 

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