Helping Vermont students navigate college, career decisions

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 4:43 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont high schoolers are already having a tough time finishing their studies online amid the pandemic, but finding a career or college adds to that challenge. Now, free virtual workshops are aimed at guiding students through the sometimes stressful process.

“We’re just so fortunate to have VSAC, and the counselor that we have, she’s been amazing, and she’s just given us so many resources and so much guidance,” said Kristy Lefebvre, whose son Tristan is looking into college.

She says the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation’s “What are you doing after high school” online offerings have helped her son get ready for the real world. They cover topics from the college application process and financial aid, to scholarship information, something she says she knows nothing about. “There’s so many, there’s just so much information out there, it’s kind of hard to even know where to begin,” Lefebvre said.

Each program is specifically designed for each student that signs up by what grade they’re in and where they should be in their career search. “All students and families can relate to the challenges that brings, but planning for your future doesn’t have to stop just because you know education looks different or the world looks different. It’s still really relevant and important to do,” said Lindsay Carpenter, a VSAC outreach counselor.

And Tristan took that advice to heart. He says there is a lot that high school doesn’t teach, and VSAC’s help will help propel him forward in his career goals. “During the Pandemic I wasn’t even thinking about college. I was just trying to get done my school work. So, it was hard to really think about the future when everything was changing in the moment,” he said.

Tristan says he’s leaning towards becoming a radiologic tech and hopes to eventually lead a clinic in his future career. But if students don’t know what to do after high school, VSAC can help them narrow the choices. “Live tours of colleges and training programs in Vermont. There will be live workshops around how to find a career that suits you, how to pay or college, all of those really important topics that you wouldn’t know if you didn’t work in the field or weren’t experiencing it,” Carpenter said.

VSAC’s Anna Telensky says trade jobs pay well and have plenty of job opportunities and often offer certification in the desired field in half the time of a traditional college. “You might be a high school student who’s thinking I don’t really like school, I don’t think college is for me. But what’s awesome about so many of our trade schools is that they’re hands-on and you’re doing something that you’re interested in and it’s really preparing you for that next step in your career,” she said.

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