The vast majority of students who graduate RAHS make the choice to attend four year universities for their secondary education. However, several seniors each year instead seek opportunities off the beaten path, hoping to find a form of secondary education that better suits their needs and desires on the way to their future career.
RAHS Humanities teacher and senior advisor Michelle Juarez is always glad to help seniors explore their options after they graduate.
“I think it’s a great idea, not to say that four-year universities are overrated, but I think there are plenty of opportunities, whether it’s a vocational school, military service, community college,” said Juarez.
After graduating, RAHS senior Tanjai Ploykao plans on attending Green River Community College, hoping to get a two-year head start in the commercial aviation industry where seniority means everything in career advancement.
“My plan is to go to Green River, and go for their Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Aeronautical Science,” said Ploykao. “I’m in the ASP (Aeronautical Science Pathway) program, created by [former RAHS Principal Reba] Gilman, which when completed will award me about thirty college credits that will help me finish my Associate’s degree, and after that I will continue pursuing my Bachelor’s degree at Green River.”
Going to community college is a common choice for seniors who don’t want to attend university next year, allowing them to keep their options open as they explore what sort of degrees and careers might interest them in the future.
“It’s a perfect opportunity, go to a community college, test out a few different areas of study that you like or might like, and so much less expensive than a university,” said Juarez. “I wish community college was a more viable option for students here, they seem to think it’s a ‘lesser than’ opportunity, when I think of it as a great opportunity to get pre-req’s out of the way, and some have special programs available to take as well.”
The expectation for most students at RAHS is to graduate and go on to a four-year university, although a university education isn’t necessarily for everyone and definitely isn’t a ‘magic bullet’ for success.
“I know people at our school have a high expectation for going to a four-year University,” said Ploykao, “and think they’ll come out automatically successful, but to me it’s not about that, it’s about where you end.”
Other students, like senior Gavin Benofsky, want to use RAHS as a springboard to a career in the military. Benovsky is a part of Sea Cadets, a youth auxiliary organization partnered with a US Navy, and his time there has guided him towards joining the Merchant Marines.
“I’m in Sea Cadets, and joining the military has always been something I’ve wanted to do, so since I’ve planned on doing service, I thought ‘why not get some schooling in at the same time?” said Benofsky. “Going to the Merchant Marine academy seems like the best way for me, I’d be able to get my education and pay it off with service instead having to pay with money my family doesn’t have.”
Senior Ian Lichty, also a Sea Cadet, has already planned out his career in the Navy. He doesn’t need to attend a four year university, as the career path he’s aiming for is restricted to enlisted men only, who don’t need a university degree. Instead, he plans on completing his education at a community college to save time and money.
“The plan is to take two years of community college, and then enlist in the Navy. [I’m] hoping to become a Master at Arms, the Navy’s version of military police,” said Lichty. “I want to make a difference in the world, and to me joining the military is the way to do that.”
Beyond even just community college or military, Juarez sees tons of opportunities students might not even consider.
“I think there’s too much emphasis placed on going to a high-ranking university,” said Juarez, “honestly, there are great opportunities at small universities, community colleges, and vocational schools, some companies even offer educational programs where you get paid while you study! There are too many options out there to restrict yourself to just four year universities.”