Preparing students for life after high school is an important task guidance counselors take very seriously.
At Pattonville High School, the discussions about what comes next begins well before the students step foot in the building.They start talking about the future at the middle school level.
Once the students get to the high school, the conversations get more serious the closer the get to graduation.
The same can be said for Mehlville High School, where counselors again cover all the options students have, from the military to a four-year institution of higher learning.
At both schools, parents are sometimes included in the discussion.
And at both schools, some parents still cling to the idea their child must attend a four-year college or university, but guidance counselors are seeing a shift in how students are approaching their post-secondary education.
Through financial opportunities like the A+ Scholarship, many students are looking to community colleges and technical schools to get started in the workforce.
At Mehlville, Rankin Technical College is highly lauded as a good option for some students.
Rankin Tech is a private, non-profit school that offers everything from certificates to Bachelor’s degrees. But it is their six internship programs that are the most sought after.
According to Rankin Tech, the internship programs have a 100 percent placement rate.
Four of those programs train students to be certified mechanics with a major car maker.
The students first have to interview and be accepted by either a Ford, GM, Toyota, or Honda dealership, in addition to being accepted by the school.
However, once they are in the program the student is guaranteed a job when they graduate.
Two other internship programs through Rankin Tech deal with advanced manufacturing and professional technicians.
The student rotates through a cycle of eight weeks of classroom work and eight weeks of internship work.
But the end of the two-year program, the average student has at least 5 job offers.
Anthony Mundt had six job offers when he finished his program.
He tried community college and found that sitting in a classroom every day was just not for him.
According to Mundt the job he chose is good enough to support a family, and offers continuing education and advancement opportunities.
Success through technical schools doesn’t always have to equate to mechanical skills.
High school counselors are seeing more kids approaching medical careers through alternative paths as well.
Both Mehlville and Pattonville offer their students an opportunity to get become a CNA before they graduate.
Many of those students plan to attend a major university to pursue medicine, but the reality is some of them will not make it.
In their cases, financial hurdles may not be overcome, or the competitiveness of the field will leave them outside looking in.
For these students, private for profit Vatterott College may be an option, according to counselors.
It certainly was for Andrew Fruend.
Fruend planned to join the military after high school, but when he was medically disqualified he was left with no plan B.
He initially attempted a traditional route to a career by attending community college with the intent of transferring to a four-year university. But he quickly found, community college wasn’t for him.
Meanwhile, all of his efforts at volunteering at local hospitals were dashed by students already in medical programs. He was boxed out. That is, until he went to Vatterott College.
There, he got his medical assistant certification and was able to land a job at St. Louis University working in a SLU Care doctor’s office.
Fruend said, his path to a career was non-traditional, and he is happy with the decisions he has made because they got him to where he is today.
At 23, Fruend makes enough money to live on his own.
Recently, the doctors he works with have noticed his aptitude and drive. With their support he has applied to attend SLU to continue his education.