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College and career planning night offers broader view of higher education

March 13, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Jamie Dingle of Volvo Powertrain North America in Hagerstown talks Wednesday night with Rafael and Dora Estrada, foreground, and their son, Kenneth Estrada, a junior at South Hagerstown High School, during The Future Starts Now: College and Career Planning for K-12 Families at the school.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — In one sense, the event had the feel of a traditional college fair with college representatives there to help high school students plan for a career.

But this was a much broader view of higher education with sessions geared at ways to even get elementary school students on the right track for college.

The Future Starts Now: College and Career Planning for K-12 Families also helped parents with tips on how to pay for college education, such as applying for financial help through university trusts, offered high school students advice on what kind of preparation they need to start taking now for various fields and featured various panel discussions.

The panel discussions included talks to help families whose children are the first generation to go to college, words of wisdom from current college students and a question and answer session with parents of college students.

In one classroom at South Hagerstown High School, Erik Vreeland and Courtney Leard from Fountaindale Elementary School talked to parents about what they start doing now to prepare their elementary-age children for college.

Leard said it is important for parents to listen to their kids and determine what they like and don’t like.

Parents should encourage their kids to explore the areas they like and parents should do whatever they can to nurture the interest, whether its keeping them enrolled in a special program or getting them a musical instrument they are interested in, Leard said.

“The more exposure a child has ... the more they will be college and career ready,” Leard said.

Leard said one of the most important activities a parent can do with a young child is to read to them and read with them. And Leard said children should read in a variety of formats from books, to newspapers to iPads, emphasizing it is important that they learn to find information online.

In another room, older students learned about how they need to prepare for various job fields in “Career Clusters.” Aaron K. House, a project architect with Bushey Feight Morin Architects Inc., in Hagerstown, talked to students interested architecture. Such a field requires college, but House was also telling high school students that it is important for them to start taking art classes because art helps them prepare for the creative process associated with architecture.

“Architecture is about getting ideas out of your head and onto paper, or some other form,” House said.

Students might be interested in a traditional college or they might want to learn a trade like plumbing, refrigeration or heating and cooling, which can be accomplished at the Barr Construction Institute on North Locust Street in Hagerstown. The school had a booth at the event.

If a student wants to attend the Barr Construction Institute or Washington County Technical High School, there are different requirements for both and students need to start planning for the schools by their sophomore year in high school, said Patrice Davis, a career guidance technician for Washington County Public Schools.

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