Graduates Consider All Their Options

Approximately half of area seniors fresh out of high school are choosing to receive a post-secondary education by starting at a two-year college.

A survey of Jamestown Public Schools’ and Falconer Central Schools’ classes of 2013 shows between 50 and 54 percent of seniors moving on to community colleges or technical schools.

TWO-YEAR PROGRAMS

According to guidance counselors at both districts, the statistic continues the tradition of the paths graduates have taken in recent years. Ashley Noon, guidance counselor at Jamestown High School, said different factors play into the students’ decision to go the two-year route.

“In most cases, cost plays an important role in the decision-making process,” she said. “Many times, students will apply to multiple schools – two-year and four-year – wait to see what kind of financial aid package they are offered and then make a decision about what their best option is.”

Kristin Santana, a JHS senior who graduated on Friday, will be attending the Great Lakes Institute of Technology in Erie. She said her decision was based on a poor job market and expediency in entering the workforce with a degree.

“You have to go where there are jobs, you can’t just waste your time. You’ve got to get through (school) and just get right into it,” she said. “And it’s easier. It’s not packed and you have more one-on-one teacher time. It’s a tech school but you’ll learn a lot.”

Tina Duliba, Falconer guidance counselor, also said cost was a main motivating factor for the 54 percent of Falconer’s students attending two-year schools. She said many of these students have indicated an intention to transfer to a four-year school afterward.

“Many of the graduates attending college are enrolled at Jamestown Community College in University Parallel programs and expect to transfer to four-year degree programs,” Duliba said. “With the college connection classes offered through JCC, and with merit-based scholarships from other post-secondary campuses, our students can receive a quality education with significant savings.”

One of those students was Andrew Modica, who graduated Thursday from Falconer. Modica will be attending JCC in the fall in pursuit of a degree in graphic arts, a decision he said was based on personal interest rather than cost.

“My usual occupation at home is drawing and I really want to get into video game making. So, I feel like graphic arts would be the thing to go into for that kind of (profession),” he said.

FOUR-YEAR PROGRAMS

Noon said the second highest percentage of JHS graduate destinations is four-year schools. She listed Cornell University, American University, Ohio State, University of South Carolina, West Virginia University, St. Bonaventure, Geneseo and Case Western as the top choices of students who chose not to attend a local school.

JHS graduates Abigail Blixt and Sophie Sellstrom have enrolled in four-year programs at St. Bonaventure and the University of Vermont, respectively. Both cited a family history with their colleges of choice among other reasons.

“My brother went there, so I was familiar with the place and it was kind of like a second home,” Sellstrom said. “Plus, my big thing is skiing and their ski team is just No. 1, so that was big for me.”

“Both of my parents went (to St. Bonaventure), so we’ve always gone to basketball games and all kinds of sporting events. So, I’ve always wanted to go there,” Blixt said.

At Falconer, Duliba said 28 percent of this year’s graduates will be attending a four-year school, which is relatively consistent with the 23 percent from the class of 2012 and the 29 percent from the class of 2011.

Brandon Norris, valedictorian of Falconer’s Class of 2013, has enrolled as a chemical engineer major at Clarkson University. He said his decision was influenced by his achievements in a variety of classes offered at Falconer, which enabled him to consider a more long-term post-secondary option.

“I already have a year’s worth of college courses under my belt. So I figured I would challenge myself, go to new surroundings and figure out what it’s like elsewhere,” Norris said.

WORKFORCE AND MILITARY

Of the approximately 25 percent of students who didn’t enroll in post-secondary programs, Noon said their options were to enter the workforce or the military. Duliba said, of this year’s Falconer graduates, 12 percent were seeking employment and 2 percent have enlisted-which is a decrease from the 5 percent that enlisted in both 2011 and 2012.

For those that chose to enter the workforce, the trend appeared to be a desire to pursue their futures outside of the educational system.

“I just like working, and I don’t like school,” said Falconer graduate Dakota Austin.

“I’m not entirely sure (what influenced my decision), I just didn’t really want to go to college,” said Jonathon Wick, Jamestown graduate. “I didn’t want to get out (of school) and just go right back into it. I just kind of wanted to go out and experience the world on my own.”