What are Hampton’s Upperclassmen Saying About Post-Secondary Plans?

Image Credits: US News

Image Credits: US News

Abby Pursh, Writer

As the school year starts up again, Hampton’s upperclassmen are beginning to think about what they want to do–and where they want to go–after they leave HHS. College seems to be the most common plan for students, but why? How far along are they in the college process, and how are they feeling about it? Some students, however, are choosing not to go the traditional collegiate route. Where do they plan to go, and why have they made that decision? To find out, The Hamptonian asked the opinions of seniors and juniors regarding post-secondary plans and the path they have chosen for after they toss up their graduation caps. 

 

Exploring Passions 

Most students plan to go to college in order to continue studying the subjects they are devout to and develop a career. In the words of senior Quentin Romero Lauro, college will help him to “explore intellectual passions.” For many students, doing so will help lead them into their chosen job field. Marissa Martinoski, a junior, aspires to become a math teacher in her future. “It’s been my dream since second grade,” she says. When asked why, she replied, “I’ve always loved helping others, and I’m good at math.” Senior Anthony Dimaria, who is thinking of places like Pitt or RIT, agrees that college is a stepping-stone to his chosen career path. “I wanna become an engineer,” he says. “College is the way to get there.” Other students say they’ve been encouraged by teachers to pursue their favorite academics, or hope to get a future job that pays well. But no matter the reason, it’s clear that college is the path many upperclassmen are choosing to take. 

 

Preparing For College

Senior year can get pretty chaotic, from 4-hour standardized tests to applications that just barely make the early deadlines. But while seniors have SATS, essays, college tours, and other personal projects to worry about, juniors appear to be more focused on taking classes that they’re interested in. For example, junior Bree Hays enrolled in an accounting class, and plans to study something math-related in college. Cassidy Kramer, also a junior, is interested in science and plans to attend college for at least 6 years. She says she takes AP classes to “help with the credit load.” While the full impact of college applications hasn’t hit 11th graders yet, they continue to explore the subjects that interests them most. 

 

Feelings of Stress

Seniors are very stressed about the college process as a whole. Part of the reason it’s so stressful is “balancing extracurriculars and school,” says Romero-Lauro. Dimaria agrees that it’s “a lot of work”, and National Honors Society especially adds stress. On the other hand, the juniors show more indifference or are even enthusiastic about heading into their fields. For example, Martinoski says she’s “excited to become a math teacher,” but isn’t very deep into the process yet. Kramer agrees that she feels “pretty alright” so far. This makes sense considering most students don’t start college-hunting and typing up personal essays until the summer between 11th and 12th grade– and the majority of early applications aren’t due until the fall of senior year. But perhaps the striking contrast between the feelings of seniors and juniors speaks to the fact that more needs to be done to reduce the pressure of college prep. 

 

Additional Pathways 

And yet, college isn’t for everyone. Or maybe it is– just not right away, or in the way that most attend it. From traveling to teaching, some students are choosing remarkably unique pathways following graduation.

For example, senior Cassie Seipp is thinking of taking a gap year to go visit South Korea, both to visit her family there and to learn some of the language. “I realized after overworking myself mentally for the past few years all for the sake of college that I needed to take some time to do something for myself,” Seipp said in a text to The Hamptonian. “I had lost all ambition to learn, and I didn’t want to go blindly into college feeling that way.” Learning a language has long been a goal of hers– and as someone who used to live in an Asian city, she finds herself missing it and would love to return. In addition, Seipp hopes to discover something she’s passionate about on her trip, and then “take that idea to pursue college.” And, if she were to go, she would attend a university as she explores the language and country as a whole. “I also think I will come out of it more mature, with new perspectives and life experiences,” Seipp says. 

Another senior, Andrew Mascilli, has plans to attend college, but perhaps not in the traditional way. Currently a nursing student at Beattie Career Center, he plans to go to nursing school at either West Penn, CCAC, La Roche, or another college. “I like helping people,” he said when asked why he chose nursing. In terms of the CCAC route, Mascilli says it could cause him to “save a lot of money and not be in debt.” Community college has indeed become less stigmatized in recent years for this reason: more and more students are choosing to attend CCAC because financially, it seems like a better choice. Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and online learning are more students opting for the lesser expense of CCAC. When asked how he felt about the college process as a whole, whether stressed or excited, Mascilli replied, “a little bit of both.”

Similarly, senior Alex Dowling plans on attending CCAC for two years, and then transferring to a university to get a bachelor’s degree in education. As someone whose grandmother was a history teacher, Dowling has always “really loved the foundation of our country and history,” he reported on a call with the Hamptonian. “It’s important that people know what happened in the past [be]cause history repeats itself so much.” In preparation, he took a day to job-shadow Mr. D’Ambrosio, an 8th grade history teacher at Hampton Middle School. He also took on multiple leadership roles. Overall, Dowling said he was “very excited” about his future career, as he loves teaching and working with others. “You don’t have to stress about what you want to do,” Dowling says. “As long as you do what you love to do, you’re gonna have a good time.” 

 

Into the World

As Hampton’s seniors and juniors think about their lives after high school, there seems to be an interesting array of post-secondary plans among them. Perhaps they already have their lives laid out solidly step-by-step, or maybe they aren’t entirely sure where life will take them. But regardless, graduation is fast approaching. “I’m also a bit scared,” says Seipp, of living at least somewhat alone in another country. “But I’m all there for the new adventure!” And of course, there is no way to know exactly what will happen as students venture off into the world. But, as Seipp says, “we’ll see what the future holds!”