Choosing how to further your education after high school can be a difficult and daunting task. Four high school seniors at Potosi High School have very different paths that they have chosen to take after they graduate on May 30th, 2021. Although each path is different, each senior has a story and a purpose that has shaped them into choosing each path.
Martia Abing is taking a traditional route and attending a four-year college. Although she does not have a specific school picked yet, she applied to Viterbo University in La Crosse, Edgewood College in Madison, and Clarke University in Dubuque. Martia’s goal is to become a nurse so she has chosen three schools that are known for their nursing programs. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be in healthcare.” Especially after getting her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Martia is confident that she wants to become a nurse. According to Martia, she started to think about her future college plans this previous summer when she did not have a lot to do during quarantine. “I really thought, gosh I’m a senior. I need to start buckling down on these things.” After touring schools, Martia got down to business and applied. According to Martia, there was nothing special that those schools required for her application, and only Edgewood charged a fee.
A big factor that many seniors face when they are choosing a college is the distance from home. For some students, they want to get as far away as possible from home but Martia does not want to go farther away than two hours from her family. “Family is huge to me. They are a huge support to me and I want to be close enough to see them often.” Besides finding the perfect location, money is also a big factor. Because Martia is going to attend a private college, she is planning on depending on scholarships and working through college to pay. Although it is expensive, Martia has chosen the private school route. “I chose private schools because they are smaller and the community is more tight-knit. I felt more at home there.” After going through this process, Martia has a piece of advice for underclassmen for the future. “Don’t let anyone else influence your decision. This is your life. Do what you want. Keep your goals realistic.”
Some students are gifted with athletic abilities and choose to further their sporting careers into college. For Anna Kruser, that is her case. She will be running track and field for Viterbo University next year as a nursing major. Anna chose to become a nursing major because she wants to work with children and she believes, “that all kids should be able to live a long happy life.” For Anna, choosing Viterbo as her college was an easy choice. “It has one of the best nursing programs around and it is close to my sister who goes to La Crosse.” After she decided on Viterbo, Anna was contacted by the head track and field coach about running for Viterbo. In 2018 and 2019, Anna went to state track in the 4x4 and 800 meter run so she was a shoo-in for running in college. Although she is not 100% sure about running track in college because it will mean an extremely busy schedule, she knows that her passion for running and the scholarship money she receives for running will keep her eager to run. College athletes have a much more difficult schedule than regular college students. According to Anna, she has a very detailed, planned-out schedule. She has to lift and go to practice every day. She does not get much study time because she will be very busy with track and when she has free time, she will be using that to study.
She said that the most stressful part of applying to college did not have to do with her sport but with the FAFSA because it was confusing. She also noted that writing a personal statement was difficult. “Writing a personal statement is stressful because it is going to colleges. You want to sound intelligent.” Throughout Anna’s entire journey of deciding to become a college athlete, her best piece of advice was, “Try to find the best place that fits you and your personality. Don’t judge the school by its reputation.”
A smart financial choice that some students are making now is starting at a two-year school and then transferring to a four-year school. For Sydney (Syd) Fecht, that is the choice she made. She will be attending Southwest Technical College (SWTC) in the fall of 2021 and then will transfer to the University of Wisconsin Platteville (UWP). Sydney chose SWTC because it has a really good childcare program. “I really enjoyed working with little kids [while tutoring].” This inspired Syd to either become a teacher or a Child Life Specialist. “SWTC has a really good 2+2 program that is specific to teaching. I’ll get to work hands-on with children, which is something I wouldn’t get elsewhere.” Like Anna and Martia, Syd wants to be close to home which is why she chose to transfer to UWP after she is done at SWTC. Syd has done a lot of research that has got her to where she is. Not only did she tutor in the preschool last year, but she also shadowed a physical therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, counselor, and Child Life Specialist. After all of the research, she still found it difficult to choose a college. “I wanted to make sure it was the right one so I questioned my decision if it was right for me.” In the end, Syd went with her gut and decided on SWTC. Syd has lots of experience when it comes to deciding what to do with her future, and a piece of advice she would give to underclassmen is, “[I would] tour as many schools as you can, because every school is different.”
Some students only need to attend a two-year college to enter the profession of their choosing. Jack Kaiser, who wants to become a plumber, is taking that route. Jack will be attending SWTC next fall and entering the apprenticeship program for plumbing. “I always wanted to be a plumber. Over summer I worked for Schmitz and it hit me that I liked what they do.” SWTC has a cool opportunity for future plumbers. “I will only go to class two days a month and the other days I will be working with a plumber.” Jack hopes to work with Schmitz Plumbing and Heating during his process to become a journeyman. They would sponsor his college tuition and Jack would work for them five years after he graduates, which makes SWTC’s program unique. The most stressful part of applying to college for Jack is finding a sponsor since it is not guaranteed that Schmitz will sponsor him. If he can not find a sponsor, he will have to pay for his tuition and SWTC will assign him a sponsor instead. So far, Jack has dedicated a lot of time to the plumbing industry and he will need to spend 2,000 hours working during his schooling to graduate from the program. His best advice to underclassmen is, “Work at something that you want to do. You don’t want to spend all your time, money, and work to do something you don’t like.”
No matter the story, each student has different goals and dreams that they are working towards after graduation. For Martia, she will attend a four-year university. Anna will be an athlete. Syd will transfer to a four-year university after she completes school at a two-year university. Jack will complete his school for free, and in only two years, to begin working in the real world. There is no “right” path to success but every student has a way to get there in the end. It is just important to note, like Jack said, “Work at something you want to do” and that will lead you down the road to success.