With her last year of high school coming to an end in just a few short weeks, senior Caroline Critchfield is already packed up and ready to go on to college. On May 20, she will join the other 2017 graduates as they walk across a long stage in a blur of green and gold gowns and caps.
Critchfield can only imagine this moment when she will finally be free to start her new future outside of Columbia at Johnson Wales University in Charlotte, N.C. Surprisingly, choosing her future wasn’t as difficult as it would seem. Critchfield applied to many schools that matched her description of a “dream school,” the school that would teach her a lot more about her favorite hobby: baking.
“I’ve loved cooking since I was eight years old and knew I wanted to do something in culinary sometime later on in my life,” Critchfield said.
“When I came to Rock Bridge, I knew I wanted to take the culinary classes in the Career Center, and that kind of led me to where I am, and they showed me all these different culinary schools all across the nation, and I applied to all of them. I also went and visited and decided that Johnston Wales was the school for me. [It] showed me what I really love doing.”
Critchfield knew exactly what she wanted to do, and it helped her narrow down the options for colleges. By this time in the year most seniors know what college they want to pick based on their interests, counselor Rachel Reed said.
“I have a handful of students every year come and ask specific questions about helping find colleges of best fit for them,” Reed said, “Most students that I work with, by the time they hit their senior year, have a pretty good idea of where they’re going to go.”
[pullquote]“Although I’m nervous to be leaving high school and start a new chapter in my life, I’m also excited for college,” Perkins said. “I’ve really enjoyed my four years at Rock Bridge, and I’m ready to see what the future holds.”-Rachel Perkins, senior[/pullquote]
Just like following a lifelong dream is important, so is using the time provided in high school to discover one’s interests and the school that best coincides with those passions. Senior Rachel Perkins knew that she was interested in pursuing teaching as a future job at a young age and used that knowledge to her advantage by taking classes that would benefit her career-wise.
“I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, and I was excited to find out Columbia College has a really good education program where I can get my masters in five years,” Perkins said. “I took a teaching professions class in the Career Center last year, and I’m currently taking a teaching instruction class. These classes helped reiterate my passion for teaching and made me want to find a college to help me pursue a job in education.”
Like Perkins, junior Kaelyn Kovarik has also used the wide variety of career classes available that fit her interests. The classes helped her make her final decisions on what she will most likely do in the future.
“Someone can definitely prepare as a junior. Keeping your grades up, getting involved and reaching out to the community all help,” Kovarik said. “Colleges really look at junior year because you apply senior year before grades. I hope that I can find a school that is a good fit for me based on what I have found in high school that I enjoy and work toward an enjoyable future.
Like Critchfield, most seniors who will attend college next year feel nervous no matter how distant their college may be, but most are ready for a new challenge in their lives. Graduation is the first step in the transition from childhood to adulthood.
“Although I’m nervous to be leaving high school and start a new chapter in my life, I’m also excited for college,” Perkins said. “I’ve really enjoyed my four years at Rock Bridge, and I’m ready to see what the future holds.”
The distance between home and college will be bigger for Critchfield than it will be for Perkins, but Critchfield believes nothing will break any of her current friendships and her relationship with her family. It’s nice to have her family behind her to support her in her journey by continually staying in contact, she said.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking just knowing that I’ve been living with my family and so close to my friends for so long, and now I’m kind of leaving and going twelve hours away to a place where I don’t really know anyone,” Critchfield said. “It’s definitely scary, but knowing that I have super super good friends at Rock Bridge who will still be here and who will still be in college in other states, and I know we’re going to stay close, and I know me and my parents are also going to stay very close and keep in contact makes it a lot less scary.”