Teenagers on the way to a good life – Natural Self Esteem

What should teenagers do after school?

With college tuition rising and student loan debt overwhelming, a debate is ongoing about whether college or vocational training is the right path for young people facing financial obstacles and other challenges.

But educators, policymakers, and employers busy reshaping post-secondary options don’t always understand what teens actually need and want. If they listened, what would they learn?

The short answer is: Young people want more than a good income. You want a good life.

That’s what EdSurge found out when he spoke at length with nine different high school students across the United States in 2021 about the lives they’re working toward and the choices they’re making to get there. Read profiles, see portraits and hear the voices of these students here.

Then read on below to find out how these teenagers’ lives have changed over the past year.

Dino Sabic

By Kathleen Greeson for EdSurge.

During his senior year of high school, Chattanooga, Tennessee native Dino Sabic was feeling stressed and frustrated with his interrupted football season because of the pandemic. He considered studying business administration in college after beginning to reconsider his previous goal of working in medicine.

After graduating in Spring 2021, Dino enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he is now a student. He also works part-time for a logistics company.

“Love it so far!” Dino reports. “Great school and great job!”

Vernell Cheneau III

By L Kasimu Harris for EdSurge.

Budding businessman Vernell Cheneau III had decided not to go to college until his high school graduation in spring 2021. Instead, the New Orleans resident was looking forward to a position in human resources at a Fortune 500 energy company.

Vernell says he’s been doing a great job at Entergy ever since. Expecting a raise soon, he says his supervisor asked Vernell to continue working in their department because he was such a “value asset.”

Last year, Vernell shut down its side business of reselling phone cases. Now he has a new venture: selling t-shirts through a website called Villain Headquarters.

“Long story short,” says Vernell, “life has been great for me.”

Spencer Risenmay

By John Roark for EdSurge.

As a member of a farming family in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Spencer Risenmay planned to pursue a college degree in agribusiness to learn about the scientific innovations shaping agriculture. But before he enrolled in higher education, Spencer planned to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After graduating from high school in spring 2021, Spencer began this church mission. According to one of his former teachers, he is currently serving in Ghana.

Efiotu Jagun

By Damola Akintunde for EdSurge.

With strong math skills and family members with science-oriented careers, Efiotu Jagun once considered going to college to study engineering. She even won a scholarship to Georgia Tech.

But by her senior year of high school in Durham, North Carolina, she had realized that she wanted to pursue other interests and activities instead. She wondered if it made sense to enroll in a university’s technology hotbed.

Efiotu eventually went to college at Georgia Tech, and she says, “It’s pretty good so far!” She studies public policy and sociology there, plays Ultimate Frisbee, starts a student council chapter, and interns at the Georgia General Assembly for the 2022 legislative period.

Princesa Ceballos

By Rod Thornburg for EdSurge.

College is still on the horizon for Princesa Ceballos, a busy high school student from Porterville, California, who divides her time between playing tennis, raising cattle, running a club, and community service.

Princesa says she has been accepted to four universities so far: California State University at Fresno, California State University at Chico, California State University at Pomona and the University of California at Berkeley. Berkeley offered to pay most of her tuition, she says, and invited her to be a Regents scholarship recipient. For now, Princesa is hoping to study Agriculture and Environmental Plant Sciences to become a pest management consultant.

Lately, in between working on college applications, she enjoys traveling beyond her San Joaquin Valley town. Recently, Princesa mentioned that “I’ll be in Sacramento for a conference all week, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Maytee Guadiana

By Edward A. Ornelas for EdSurge.

Before graduating from high school, Maytee Guadiana was looking forward to going to college to further study and train to become a registered nurse. This was her job, chosen because it would give her the opportunity to help others.

But Maytee, who lives in San Antonio, also worried about finishing college. Years earlier, her mother could not afford to complete her studies.

Maytee enrolled at Texas A&M University in San Antonio last year and says she remains focused on school.

Kaiasia Williams

By Raven Greene of New Moon Visuals for EdSurge.

Despite her clear career goals and academic success in high school, Kaiasia Williams was concerned about going to college. She wondered if she could stay motivated, avoid procrastination, and maintain confidence in her abilities.

In spring 2021, Kaiasia became the first person in her family to graduate from high school. She has since entered college at Clemson University, where she is studying engineering. “In college I go in circles,” she says.

To get her there, Kaiasia received a $10,000 grant from a couple also living in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as a $20,000 CMiC-Allen Berg Memorial grant from Architecture, Construction, and Engineering Mentor Program of America.

“The scholarships I won were enough to get me through the doors,” says Kaiasia, “and I’m really grateful.”

Alan Farfan

By Edward A. Ornelas for EdSurge.

Thinking about life after high school, Alan Farfan cited professional stability as a huge personal priority. And the Austin, Texas student wasn’t convinced that a college degree was the best way to land a reliable job.

Alan is now a high school junior taking some college-level courses, including UX design. This summer he is planning an internship at IBM. And according to one of his teachers, Alan has started working at Whataburger, a job he enjoys.

Freddie Zepeda

By Gonzalo Guzman for EdSurge.

As a high school graduate, Chicago student Freddy Zepeda hoped that after college he would be ready to find a job that interests him and that will help him build the good life his family envisions.

After graduating in 2021, he enrolled at the University of Illinois Chicago, where he majored in Earth and Environmental Sciences. He says he’s doing very well there. Thanks to the credits Freddy earned during his dual matriculation at high school and community college, the university considers him a junior, and he has met many of the requirements for his major.

Freddy says he’s now focused on applying for summer internships while keeping up with his coursework.

What can we learn from teenagers?

Adults breaking new ground through college or vocational training programs need better insight into where young people ultimately want to end up. This information comes from listening to teenagers.

“You want to start by knowing what a young person’s work interests are, what their work values ​​are, what they can expect from work?” says Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

By listening these nine teenagers, EdSurge learned several important lessons. Young people’s brains are wired for passion, determination, and experimentation. Although some of them face significant barriers to success after high school, they tend to push their potential more than their limits. They trust their families, friends and teachers to guide them. And some teens are skeptical about the value of college, but many still see higher education as the best option to achieve their goals.

These insights can help educators, policymakers and employers better design programs for young people.

“The more engagement and ownership young people have of the whole,” says Allison Gerber, director of employment, education and training at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “the more likely their needs will be met and they will want to stay, feel included, and it will be attractive to them and their peers.”

Leave a Comment