Monday, January 11, 2021

Bright in More Ways Than One

The 19-20 and 20-21 school years have certainly not been easy. Not only have they forced a lot of changes to take place to the structure of classrooms and schooling in general, but in the midst of that there was also the ever present feelings of stress and fear that are just par for the course while trying to live during a global pandemic.

Of course, the things that have happened and the way things have happened is nothing that anyone would wish for, and the effects of these historic times are not only immediate. There will surely be much trauma and emotional (and possibly physical) scarring in the years and decades to come.

But that doesn't mean that there cannot also still be bright spots. There is always a light in the darkness, no matter how small or faint it may seem.

One of the positive things I just recently found out about is that graduation rates are up. I got an email from our county's school board letting me know. The 19-20 school year had a higher graduation rate than previous years. 3.2% higher to be exact. The rate had been increasing every year for the past 10 years.

The fact that last year, even in the thick of a global crisis that up heaved the entire learning process, students still continued to be excellent, that is just truly something to admire and find joy in. With that increase, the VCS graduation rate is now at its highest ever.

And obviously, graduating high school, in many cases, leads to heading off to college. Though if that is not the path for some people, that is absolutely valid. In fact, there is a lack of trade workers since college is pushed so heavily nowadays. College was meant to prepare you for a career, but it is not the only path, by far.

However, for those who are looking to attend college, there are many things to consider. One of the biggest factors, for many, is the cost. Taking out student loans at ridiculous interest rates that will take decades to repay is the least desirable choice. The most preferable option is to obtain scholarships.

There are many sources that these can be found. There is almost always a list of local scholarships available through the high school a student was attending. Guidance counselors should be proactive in making sure the student is informed of the options. But, if for some reason that does not happen, make sure you ask.

Some private business have scholarship programs as well. They are generally not full scholarships, of course, but every bit helps. And there are so many other avenues as well. Nancy Etz has a list of 12 scholarships that are available to inspirational young women, to empower them for the future.

No matter what tools you may obtain along the way, to help you reach your dreams, he most important will always be your own mind, your hard work, and your will to make an impact. You are the goal. You are the prize. The rest is support. Support is nice, it is necessary, at times, but it could never be a replacement for the intellect and passion that are unique to you alone.

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