By Peter Kellner
Champlain Valley Union High School
Here at CVU, we pride ourselves on our student body. CVU graduates are known to go out and make a difference in whatever career path they choose.
Students attend two- and four-year colleges and universities, explore the world during a gap year, go on to a trade school, enter the workforce, and enlist in the military. Today, a variety of choices and factors affect students and their families decision-making for next year. With the rising costs of college, it’s no surprise that there was a two percent decline in college enrollment rates in 2012-13.
In Vermont, and the community we live in, we’re significantly isolated from some of the problems facing a large number of Americans–but this doesn’t mean CVU families aren’t affected. When asked about money and decision making, many seniors said that it was very influential factor for their families.
Leo Antinozzi, a senior from Shelburne, is hoping to attend Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, this fall. Westminster is a four-year, private liberal arts school.
“I kind of wanted to get somewhere other than Vermont and get some new experiences,” said Antinozzi. He also has family in the Salt Lake area. Antinozzi wants to go to college because “it’s a chance to gain new experiences that I wouldn’t get any other way.” Access to smart people is something that Antinozzi really values as well. “Degree inflation means that for a lot of jobs, college education is just necessary, even if you don’t need the education, per se. They [employers] want you to have been to college,” said Antinozzi. For Antinozzi, money was an influential factor and all of the schools he looked at happened to be within his family’s range.
This fall, Antinozzi is looking forward to leaving Vermont. “I like Vermont, but I need to get out of here!” He’s also looking forward to enjoying the access to some of the country’s greatest mountains so he can snowboard. Antinozzi said that he’s definitely going to miss all of his friends though. Planning ahead in five years, Antinozzi would like to see himself in a graduate program doing well for himself. Antinozzi has enjoyed his parents support and wishes for him to go to college and said that they’ve been behind him 100 percent.
Another option for those looking for a degree is attending a two-year institution. Antoni Wathugi is doing this in the fall. He hopes to go to Long Island University in New York. One of the main reasons Wathugi stated for his reasoning was that his family came to the U.S. for the education. “I’m from Africa, so I kind of came for the education, that’s the main reason,” he said. Wathugi wants to get a post-secondary education, but doesn’t want to spend four years in college right away. “I want to learn and hop into a stable career,” he said. Getting a degree is something that Wathugi’s parents really wanted and valued for their son. “My mom and dad have been saving, so I got in, and we’ve got the money for it,” he said.
Wathugi is looking forward to living in a new place and he’s ready to leave the cold Vermont weather. He also is looking forward to living in a more urban environment. Like many soon-to-be college students, Wathugi is not sure what to expect from dorm life and living without his parents. In five years Wathugi wants to have a nice job in human resources or business communications.
Cameron Miller, a senior from Hinesburg, hopes to join the National Guard once he graduates. Miller comes from a family with a rich military background. Many of his family members were either in the Navy or Marine Corps. When asked about his reasoning behind his choice, Miller said that he “sees the National Guard as a place of honor and pride. I want to be able to help those who can’t help themselves.” For Miller, these qualities are the driving forces behind his decision-making. Things like money have not played much of a role for him. “I don’t really care for money, I mean, as long as I’m making people happy and keeping them safe, I’ve never cared for the money,” he said.
He’s looking forward to getting as much education as he can while serving in the Guard. His aspirations are to learn about engineering, specifically auto and mechanical engineering.
Like everyone who aspires to join the military, he’s aware of the rigors and sacrifices of military life. He’s worried about being mentally prepared for all the challenges he’ll face. In five years, Miller would like to work toward a college degree with the help of benefits earned by serving the country. In the future he’d like to be a teacher in engineering, and he’s interested in teaching shop classes to high schoolers.
Colton Heh is not having a typical senior year. Heh is currently a student in the Vermont Academy of Science and Technology (VAST). VAST is a program that Vermont Technical College offers. What it does is allow high school juniors to complete their senior year of high school at college and earn college credits. After this year, Heh will graduate from CVU and get his diploma as well as graduate from the VAST program with yet another diploma. Heh said that after he’s gotten this education, he will be halfway to earning his associate’s degree in Automotive Technologies. “I am doing this because while I am happy to be able to complete a year of college at a relatively low cost thanks to the program, I would like to get more into high performance auto sports and tuning and that kind of learning isn’t readily available at VTC,” said Heh. With this aspiration to learn more about high performance, Heh wants to continue his education at the University of Northwestern Ohio and complete his associate’s degree in Automotive and High Performance Automotive Technologies.
Heh took a lot of time deciding what schools were best for him and his family: “As with anyone going to college, money is a huge concern. My parents have been very generous in helping me be able to go to college while I cover little expenses like books and other little things as I can. Money has played a role in my decision making, but not to any great extent. I compared college prices to make sure the one I liked wasn’t an unreasonable amount and UNOH has one of the lower costing but better automotive programs around so I got lucky in finding it.”
Heh is excited for the fall and is ready to gain new experience. A substantial goal for Heh is to graduate with his degree and get a job right away. “I hope that I can get a job somewhere that I enjoy that allows me to pursue my hobbies of tuning cars and earn a living while doing so,” he said.
In five years, Heh wants to be working on high performance cars as his primary job. In addition, he’d like to work on his own cars too, making for a good hobby. Heh is looking forward to this opportunity because he’ll have the ability to being doing something that he loves, which is very important to him. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, and that’s just what I’m aiming for,” he said.
A gap year can offer individuals an immense amount of experience and knowledge that cannot be gained any other way. Zowie Tuttle and Sophie Heyerdahl are both planning to take this route. Tuttle, a senior from Burlington, is planning on going to Maine in the fall. One of the main reasons why Tuttle is taking a gap year, is so that she can settle down in a new place without having to rush. She plans on taking community college courses at Northern Maine Community College and already has her eyes set on obtaining a degree in theatre education.
Like everybody, Tuttle is worried about leaving what she’s known for so long, but is excited for the adventures and experiences to come. In five years, Tuttle wants to be pursuing her desired degree with an end goal of teaching acting in a high school setting.
Sophie Heyerdahl, a junior from Montpelier, with enough credits to graduate already, is also planning on taking a gap year. She sees three possibilities in the fall, either interning at an organic and sustainable farm in Maine, living in Spain as an au père, or travelling to Argentina to teach English. With all of these incredible opportunities, Heyerdahl said that she wants to pursue these options for a variety of reasons. “Because I’ve completed high school in three years, I’m going to have the ability to take a gap year.” Additionally, she wants to take time to pursue an education outside of a school setting, giving her a new level of freedom.
With these aspirations come fears as well. Heyerdahl is worried about earning an income next year, seeing as much of her work will be volunteering. Living on a new continent is, of course, very intimidating for Heyerdahl.
Heyerdahl looks forward to becoming fluent in Spanish, and getting to see new parts of the world. In five years, Heyerdahl would like to have a college degree and possibly be attending graduate school.
Heyerdahl has been lucky to have the support of her parents in her decision-making. “My parents are very open to alternative education and have said go for it,” Heyerdahl said.
With all of these different routes students are taking, it’s easy to see the caliber of students graduating from CVU.