CHS Class of 2017 Has Big Plans Post High School Graduation

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Hadriana Lowenkron, a resident of Maplewood, is a student at Columbia High School. She is currently enrolled in Mr. Enyeart’s journalism course, writes for the award-winning Columbian newspaper, and is looking forward to her own graduation in 2018!


Last year, as in the prior years, nearly 90% of Columbia High School (CHS) graduates went on to enroll in postsecondary education. This year looks to be no different for the class of 2017, with graduation a mere three months away.

When asked what graduation meant to her, Rebekah Adams, ‘17, responded: “A new beginning for yourself. It’s all about you now; about achieving what you’ve always wanted to achieve.”

While every student at CHS takes the same required classes, CHS prides itself in offering numerous electives to best suit its students and prepare them for the future. The hope is that every student will walk out of CHS as a senior, having developed his/her own sense of what to do in the future, and the motivation to pursue it.

Senior year is the time for those who are planning on attending institutions of higher learning to decide which school is the perfect place for them to further their interests. This is currently the case for the Class of 2017.

Adams, for example, has always been a fan of science and math, and hopes to become an astronaut and “conduct space-related and earth-related medical research.” She has recently committed to West Point.

However, considering most colleges don’t expect their students to have decided on a major until the end of sophomore year, Adams is unusual. Many people know they want to go to college, but have not decided on a major.

This is the case for Stefen Reese, ‘17, who applied to some schools for mechanical engineering, and others for computer science. When asked for his rationale, he responded: “I would like to try mechanical engineering, but I also recognize that I may not be qualified enough for some engineering programs, and computer science is a much easier major to be accepted for.”

Another heavily-considered part of the application process is whether to apply Early Decision (ED). When asked what his thoughts were on applying ED, and why he didn’t choose to do so, Reese responded: “I wanted to give myself options.” While schools appreciate the commitment that its applicants show by applying ED, it is important that students not rush themselves, because opinions can change.

For Kendi Whitaker, ‘17, Duke University had always been her dream school, and so she applied ED. After being waitlisted, she received an acceptance from the University of Pittsburgh. The first time she visited Pitt — and every time thereafter — she felt at home: “I feel like it’s where I’m supposed to be. The academics are phenomenal, the campus is beautiful, the school spirit is through the roof; there’s honestly not one part of the University of Pittsburgh that I don’t love.” Whitaker will join eight CHS graduates from the class of 2016 who are currently at Pitt.

In some cases, applying ED also limits the chance of receiving financial aid. Nathan Ash-Milby, ‘17, a prospective music student, applied to numerous schools, and after an intense but satisfying audition process, finds himself deciding between the University of North Texas and Westminster Choir College. Ash-Milby did not apply ED to any schools because he wouldn’t be able to compare the costs of the schools after taking financial aid into account, as the schools “take an incredibly long time to give financial aid.”

How long is “an incredibly long time?”

“My first acceptance was in October, and they just got back to me about financial aid a month ago,” Ash-Milby responded.

Financial aid plays a huge part in the decision-making; the cost of college is seventeen times greater than it was for the Baby Boomers, according to Why Does A College Degree Cost So Much. For Mia Gladstone, ‘17, “the college process has become a lot more focused on money than education,” which she believes shows a clear bias towards wealthier people.

College is not for everyone; historically there has always been a small but significant percentage of the graduating class of CHS — approximately 10% for 2016 — that has chosen a different path. This is no different for the class of 2017, with Gladstone as an example.

Her passion for music started when she was young, but developed during her years at CHS. She fulfilled her credits in enough time to graduate a semester early, in order to focus on making music full-time, and she is currently at a music program in Ohio that specializes in audio engineering.

One thing is clear: there is great diversity in the class of 2017 in terms of post-high school paths to success.

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