Advisors Seek Out 2017 Grads


Local High School Career Advisors have been tracking 2017 graduates since diplomas were handed out in mid-May—checking on their compliance with admission and financial requirements, making sure they are getting what they need, figuring out what they don’t yet know or have.


Those extra steps are available through both local high schools due to a grant won last year. Career Advisors at both local high schools, whose three-year, state-funded mission is to help emerging graduates get to the next step.


“We let them know that we are available to help them,” said Hickman High School Career Advisor, Amanda Saunders.  At Hickman County High School, Saunders says she has a line on 104 of the 119 who graduated, through exit surveys in May and a statewide texting system that corresponds to a preferred method of communication for these young adults. Of the 104, 27 are ready to go to class, 55 are waiting only on financial aid to flow in and 10 must attend orientation. Only 2 are going directly into the workforce.   That leaves 19 that she hasn’t had contact with this summer. Actually, she says, that’s 13: one who she ran into one day at Sonic, and five others who did not need her assistance.


Career Advisor for East Hickman County High School, Rob Mitchell says he is tracking close to the same; of 131 new graduates, he’s contacted 106. Of those, 69 are ready for class, 19 have a little more to do and 18 are entering the workforce, through military, apprenticeship or entry level jobs.


For Mitchell, there are 25 graduates yet to be found. He’s been searching through parents and other contacts he’s had. It is not easy; some have already left home, and changing phones is not uncommon.


Both advisers say their overriding concern isn’t about enrollment in a university or enlistment in the military—it is whether a young man or young woman has a career path they know how to follow. Saunders and Mitchell can help establish that, but there has to be contact made.


“I’ve stayed late several nights,” said Mitchell, helping a student find some direction.


Without those discussions, skill certifications and diplomas may not materialize.


Recent data from Tennessee Promise about the combined Class of 2015 graduates here sheds some light on that:  Though 62 percent of graduates—163 out of 263—enrolled in some form of post-secondary education, only 100 of them were still there a year later. That is 61 percent, compared to the statewide average of 70 percent who made it to their second year. The other 63, or 39 percent, apparently dropped out.


Specific to Tennessee Promise 93 students from the combined Class of 2015 enrolled in the free aid program. A year later, only 52 remained, or 56 percent. The state average was 66 percent.


Saunders and Mitchell are dealing mainly with the most recent high school graduates, though it will be a little while to see if their effort will make a difference. Mitchell says the college adviser effort includes bringing the parents more directly into the career-planning discussion; he sent a letter to the Class of 2218 parents—the incoming seniors—in June.


“Even though they will never ask for it, they really need your support, encouragement and help,” he wrote; Saunders is preparing a similar letter.

  Saunders says the work with the new senior class will focus on FAFSA completion. Tennessee Promise enrollment and making applications to the schools they wish to be attending a year from now.


Saunders says a assessment tool will help a student establish direction. Mitchell said juniors and seniors will take the ASVAB battery this coming year, including an interest assessment, to help narrow their interest.

  He is complimentary of a tool already in use here that will, with the Class of 2019, produce its first graduates; the freshman-level Career Orientation class, a nine-week immersion on possible careers, plus instruction on how to reach those possibilities and what is required to get there.


“That gets them started,” Mitchell said.

  For now, both college advisers are dialing phone, looking for students who have gotten away, helping those who need some additional support to find a career direction and how to get there.

  Both career advisors have offices in their respective high schools and are available for discussion during regular business hours.


Source: Hickman County Times