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Timberline High School’s Student Run Publication

The Next Steps

By Editor-in-Chief Cooper Smith

A mix of emotions swallow you as your turn arrives. One of the assistant principals says your name, cue the applause. You walk across the stage at Saint Martin's Pavilion, take your diploma, shake Mr. Dean's hand, and take a quick picture with him. As you step off the stage, a rush of relief hits you. Finally, you've graduated; 4 years of high school and 13 years of schooling and you've finally graduated. But what's next?

A common question every high school student has to ask themselves: What are you gonna do after you graduate? Some options for high school graduates are to continue working or get a job, join the military, go to trade or vocational school, the most common path is to continue your education in college.

That is what Senior Kayla Cortez plans to do. 

"My main path is going to the University of Washington and majoring in Psychology," she said. "Then pursuing a path in pre-med." 

Cortez has known for a while the college was the post graduation plan for her. She seemed to always want to follow in her parents' footsteps and work in healthcare, since she was a kind. 

Cortez has already applied to colleges and she weighs in on her experience. 

"It is kinda stressful cause I do it all on my own, and it's kinda hard not being in Timberline," she said. 

Cortez is a Running Start student, so most of her classes are either on campus or online at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC), which can be quite difficult with college admissions. "It can be difficult to make a connection in SPSCC, with only having a professor for a quarter."

Professors and teachers are a main resource for letters of recommendations, so not having a professor to connect with can make it difficult to get a letter. Even with the difficulty she's faced, Cortez has already applied to her main school, University of Washington.

Not all students are confident in their future like Cortez. It is common for some students to be completely clueless. Maybe they want to go to college, but don't know where to go or what for. Or maybe they know what career they want to pursue but don't know how to get there. This is something Counselor Michael Van Buskirk can help with. 

"I'll have stuednts that come in and they say I'm intersted in this career," she said. "So, we connect them with people on the outside, people from colleges, or people from certain trades or careers so that they have resources and know what their next steps are after they graduate."

A lot of people narrow their focuses when it comes to college. "The point is to get you to get a person to look at different things. Maybe instead of choosing just one school, look at different schools that can offer that program," Van Buskirk said. 

A recent trend for post-graduation options is that more people are choosing trade school instead of college. Van Buskirk attributes this to a change of mindset. 

"I think the biggest change is that I feel like parents and students are more interested in hearing alternatives other than just going to college," she said. 

One student who is choosing this alternative is Senior Ethan Reichenbach. He plans to attend wither Clover Park Technical or ATP Flight school to become a pilot. 

"I'm probably going to either get my associate's degree or just go straight into flight school. And then once you get into flight school and get all of your certifications, then you build hours to become a pilot," he said. 

This is a recent decision for him. "I went to Florida a year or two ago, I was in the airport. And then I saw a really nice Corvette," he said. "And then I was like, that's a nice car. And then all of a sudden, a pilot hopped out, I didn't know they made that much money."

How do you actually become a pilot though? It's not as complicated as one might think. Reichenbach explained that the process is similar to any other trade or college degree. "Flight school is like a wide variety. It can be anywhere from around seven months to about five years, just depending on if you want to get a degree or not," he said. 

College isn't for everyone and Reichenbach knew this. "I don't really see myself getting a degree unless I were to become a pilot because I wasn't even planning on going to college," he said. "I've looked at other trades and stuff, but I just think being a pilot was the  best option."

No matter what people choose to pursue, everyone moves on from high school and enters a new environment. But are you prepared?

Luckily one way you can be prepared in high school is with the help of business education teacher Rachel Ward. Her class personal business and finance class is catered to helping students after graduation. 

"My class is based on information that students will need to be able to be financially secure in the future," she stated. "They learn how to budget, and how to manage checking and savings accounts."

Her class highlights the other aspects of post-graduation life, which can be beneficial to managing life in general. She wants her students to be ready for whatever can happen. 

"I want them to be prepared enough to be able to manage whatever money they do earn," she said. 

Students are expected to determine their future or at least focus their interests in high school, but it can be common to still be lost even as graduation is rearing up on you. 

Even teachers have recognized this. "Over the last few years, there have been less students wanting to attend at least a four year university, but I think it may take them a couple of years to figure out exactly what they want," Ward stated. 

Even if seniors don't know what's next after walking across the stage right at this moment, the Timberline faculty is prepared to help. So when graduates step off the Saint Martin's stage and into the future, they take them in stride and with confidence.